Monday, February 17, 2014

House of Cards: A Post-Mortem

Imagine, for a moment, this highly improbable event: President Barack Obama comes clean for the first time to the American people, without the benefit of a single teleprompter. He schedules a special televised address to the nation, with the White House Press Corps, the press at large, the Congress, and an audience of foreign dignitaries and representatives from all the collusive special interests and lobbies that have a line into the Oval Office. He says:

I am here to confess, without shame or reservation, that I am a power-lusting scumbag. I admit that I hate this country and wish to see it reduced to penury. I used every trick in the book to clinch the White House. I don’t mind that I'm the tool of others who hate this country and I will continue to be their proxy in malice. I am a Marxist who has stepped on and throttled others' ambitions, even when those others shared my contempt for this country and, like me, regarded it as their pie to eat. I am willing to commit treason. I have worked to overthrow this country's government by fair means and foul. I have never been interested in the welfare, security or happiness of any American, not even of my supporters and admirers. I've thrown them under the bus the moment they lose value to me, and will not hesitate to do it again. My sole aim has always been to acquire power.

In reference to Kevin Spacey's brilliant TV series, "House of Cards," my own Doug Stampers have been Bill Ayers, David Axelrod, and Rahm Emanuel and his brothers and an ever-changing host of deputies of this and that. Doug Stamper, as you may recall, was the aide who committed crimes for Frank Underwood when Underwood was too busy to commit them himself. But Frank Underwood is my role model, and was even before anyone ever invented him. The staircase he ascended was one of piles of bodies and careers. "People stack so well," to quote my mentor. Love it. From here on in, folks, I won’t lie to you. It won’t be necessary. You know what I am and what I'll do. I won’t bother anymore with lies or subterfuge or double-talk. There's class logic, and proletarian logic, and Marxist logic – and there's my logic. None of those twains will ever meet. And when I'm gone, I'll be haunting you for the rest of your lives.

So, good night, and God damn America.

Such a speech would be paradoxical. Why Kevin Spacey (the moving spirit behind the American "House of Cards"), a career Democrat dedicated to the Democratic Party's totalitarian or "Progressive" agenda,  would invest so much effort in a TV series that can only contribute to the public damnation of his Party and its political philosophy, is a paradox. I briefly posed that enquiry in "House of Cards: A Tale of Pain-Worshipping Killers."

The logical production would have been one that dramatized a Republican conspiracy to seize the White House by finessing the downfall of a Democratic president, as Kevin Spacey's character, Frank Underwood does at the end of Season 2, and to assume the office of president. He accomplishes that by inflicting much pain on Garrett Walker, a fellow Democrat, so much pain that Walker resigns rather than undergo impeachment for crimes Spacey and his George Soros-like co-conspirator, Raymond Tusk (the billionaire industrialist) actually committed. And perhaps that will be the logical progression we will see in Season 3 of "House of Cards."

But, that wasn't the story line in Seasons 1 and 2. Go figure.

Winston Churchill said in a radio address in 1939:

"I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest." 

I suggested that it was the smug nihilism of Spacey and his co-producers and writers that could explain an act of self-destruction. Perhaps that is the answer to the riddle, swathed in a mystery, inside the enigma. But, will "House of Cards" prove to be Obama's winding sheet, as well as the Democrats'?

Perhaps Spacey and his ilk, including Barack Obama, can afford to indulge in the smug, smirking, nihilistic hubris they express so well because they know that there is no alternative to them in the Republicans. Which there really isn't. More's the pity.

Spacey, being interviewed on ABC's "This Week" by George Stephanopoulos (who plays himself twice in the series) on February 16th, soon after "House of Cards: Season 2" debuted, opined that one reason "House of Cards" is striking a chord in Americans is that they want a Congress "that gets things done."

Perhaps Spacey and Stephanopoulos are tone-deaf, and the chord they hear is just the opposite: Americans don’t want a "very effective Congress that gets things done," especially if those things are done to them and the country. Painfully.

Josef Stalin is reputed to have first said, "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs." Or heads. Or spirits. Or lives. And the question is: For whose breakfast are the eggs being broken?

Some pundits have called "House of Cards" a satire. Others refer to Frank Underwood as a "corrupt congressman." But "House of Cards" isn't satire, and Underwood isn't merely "corrupt." To call an individual corrupt implies that he has betrayed his principles or violated his oath of office. Underwood, as depicted by Spacey, is not presented as an individual who ever had principles or anything to betray. Men without values cannot betray values they never had. Frank Underwood is not corrupt. He was born an incubus, and will remain one to his dying day.

Excuse my failing extrospective skills, but the paradox still obsesses me. Is "House of Cards" an exercise in self-loathing, or self-hatred? Self-loathing, I've read, is regarded in some realms as a sign of adult maturity. As an antonym of pride, it is an anti-virtue.

One thing is certain: A cinematic product like "House of Cards" is reflective of the general sense of self-loathing thrust upon and eating away at the West by anti-Western philosophers and their compliant mouthpieces, who are mostly left-wing academics, other intellectuals, the vast majority of the news media,  and politicians. It has "trickled down" from 18th and 19th century philosophers, beginning, as far as I can see, with Immanuel Kant.

Ayn Rand, the novelist/philosopher, could solve such as paradox as the self-denigrating nature of "House of Cards" and note that:

To the extent to which a man is rational, life is the premise directing his actions. To the extent to which he is irrational, the premise directing his actions is death.*

The whole of Frank Underwood's character is devoted to the irrational, and the irrationality he practices necessitates inflicting pain to acquire political power. He doesn’t actually want to live; but neither does he want anyone else to survive his death-wish, either.

That is nihilism.

*The Virtue of Selfishness, by Ayn Rand. 1964. New York: Signet. P. 25.

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