Your Least Favorite TV Prez

A Choice of at Least Four, None of Them Worth a Damn

RJ Matson/Roll Call

So now we have a choice of at least four presidents, none of them worth a damn: evil Frank Underwood in the new Netflix Season 5 of House of Cards, Alec Baldwin on Saturday Night Live as fake Donald Trump, the singing Trump of the comedy group Capitol Steps — and the real President Trump.

All are out of control and seem to be competing as to who’s the most outrageous.

I flipped on the TV the other night and found a show dealing with closing the borders, voter suppression, and threats of war. A talk show dissection of Trump’s blundering, possibly? Nope, just the first two segments of House of Cards. What’s next? An invasion of Antarctica?

HOC‘s President Underwood and Lady-Macbeth-of-a-vice-president-wife Claire were at their worst, plotting to win the upcoming election by exploiting voter fears of an ISIS-like foreign group while also trying to cover up domestic murder.

As opposed to Capitol Steps and Saturday Night Live, there are no laughs on this show. Due in the young season is a Vladimir Putin character called Viktor Petrov, and you know he’s going to scare the pants off everyone. Except the steely Claire, who’s liable to try to lure Petrov into bed, with hidden cameras grinding away. Not that she minds a secret roll in the hay when bedroom politics suit her Oval Office politics and ongoing battle with hubby Frank.

Remember that Underwood is so dead-serious ambitious that he pushed a lover/reporter under a subway train early in the series. How long can he get away with that?

As he remarks at one point, “You and I both know something the rest of the world refuses to acknowledge: There is no justice, only conquest.”

Real-life politics are also getting rough, as we saw recently when GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body-slammed a reporter. The reporter survived, Gianforte won the Montana election, and some folks up there were heard to say it was a good start to the election season.

I’m not sure what’s harder to watch, one of these shows or a Trump rally.

So now it’s a race to the bottom. Who’ll be crazier, House of Cards, SNL, or the White House? Who’ll blunder into World War III first, Underwood or Trump?

On SNL, we saw Kate McKinnon playing Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway, flying out a window in that (tasteless?) spoof on the movie Fatal Attraction. Not so funny ha-ha, but what about justice for poor Zoe Barnes, the story-obsessed HOC journo who slept with Underwood and then found herself under the wheels of a subway car when she became excess baggage?

So far, after all these episodes, there are lots of hints about an investigation into who killed poor Zoe but no results, sort of like the real-life did-the-Russians-interfere-with-our-election-and-if-so-how-much probe, which so far has produced a harvest of political victims but no Putin-scale proof. (How hard are they trying?)

For the first time, House of Cards doesn’t seem far-fetched. The question is, is the show, with its cynical lust for power and no-holds-barred-not-even-murder tactics, dulling our sense of outrage?

Are we really just a national audience watching an appalling White House soap opera, where trusted top public servants and relatives of the president connive with a foreign government to tilt a presidential election? Is it proof that we can’t be shocked anymore?

Is House of Cards a sanitized version of what the White House has become, or vice versa — some kind of twisted psychodrama?

Netflix is allowing all us to binge-watch all 13 insane sessions, if you can handle it. Will Claire ditch Frank? Should you take a CNN break? After two episodes, I’d seen enough. I grabbed a book. (But I knew I’d be back.)

Dennis is Back

Dennis Moran, suspended and then fired from the News-Press, will be back on the sports desk, thanks to a court ruling. Back in August 2008, he was on the union contract negotiating committee, a risky position, when he got the sack. That was a no-no, the courts ruled, and he’s due back as a sports writer and page designer this month … and lotsa luck.


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