The retired congressman penned a piece for the Portland Press Herald about how “House of Cards'” Washington doesn’t mirror the real one. “I have never met anyone in a position of power in Congress who resembles that caricature,” Frank said of Kevin Spacey’s Rep. Francis Underwood. (He did, however, complement Spacey’s acting.)
Underwood, according to Frank, is “perfect.” “His strategies were brilliant; his tactics superbly executed; his ability to manipulate everyone else in government–the speaker of the House, the president and other members of Congress–unchallenged and wholly unrealistic,” Frank continued, noting that he had only seen the first three episodes of this “cartoon version of congressional reality.” (Just you wait, Rep. Frank, it gets even more unbelievable later on in the first season!)
Frank pointed out several improbable scenarios from those early episodes.
First, a House Majority Leader would never be able to prevent the president and the House speaker from taking a meeting. Secondly, a congressman’s help in the local D.C. mayor’s race would not be a sufficient bribe, because it would be unwanted. “In fact, the citizens of Washington deeply resent congressional refusal to let them make their own decisions about public policy,” Frank noted. Third, more than just one Member of Congress is responsible for the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, the port that the fictional Rep. Peter Russo, Underwood’s lap dog, allowed to be closed down.
“There is a constant theme to the flaws in this show: Nothing is remotely close to being as easily manipulated by an amoral strategic superhero as the show portrays,” Frank wrote.
The Massachusetts Democrat recommended, instead, for viewers to watch “The West Wing” for its accuracy. “House of Cards,” Frank said, is an irritation. “What troubles me is that people will watch this, think that this is the way government functions and be further disillusioned from trying to influence it.”