COLUMN: House of Canards

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“I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.”

—Will Rogers

This week I finally finished binge-watching season two of the television show “House of Cards” on Netflix. What an ending! When it’s revealed that Frank Underwood is a Russian spy who turns over the nuclear……wait! Some of you might not have watched season two yet. No spoilers. Sorry.

Let me say this about “House of Cards”: Francis J. Underwood does nothing on that show that the Kennedys did not do 50 years ago.

I like when television shows and movies about politics name names. Much like “The West Wing,” which I rank next to “The Sopranos” as the greatest television shows ever, “House of Cards” does not shy away from naming political parties.

Like “West Wing,” Cards main characters are Democrats. And both shows do not necessarily show the Democrats in a good light. But while “West Wing” was littered with idealistic, though highly-ineffective progressives, the Democrats on Cards are avaricious, ruthless, self-centered and borderline sociopathic in their lust to attain and wield power.

In simpler terms, they are Clintonian.

That might sound like a terribly unfair dig at the Party of Jackson, but in many ways I consider that to be a compliment to their brand. Democrats are supposed to be the brawlers. They are the crusaders who fight for the common man. They are just as comfy in a smoke-filled room hammering out deals as they are beating up poll workers with 2×4’s.

There are few rules of logic or standards of practical governance imbedded in the Democratic ideology. It is a party that is built on passionate emotions and the bedrock belief that community and government should look out for everyone.

They are as hard-headed as a ball-peen hammer and as crooked as a Boston street map…but damn they make for good TV.

Now, back to reality. It is 2014 and the Democrats are going to have a very bad year. Bad as in terrible. Bad as in the Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Hindenburg blowing up on the deck of the Titanic bad. Do you remember how the US curling teams did in the Olympics last month? Yeah, worse than that. Godzilla vs. Bambi. I can go all day with the superlatives. It is going to be really, really bad.

Isn’t it great that the American people get to overthrow the government every two years? And in this year’s midterm elections, the Democrats are the keyholders to the Bastille.

What can they run on? Barack Obama has cemented his reputation as the most overmatched president ever. His policies have failed to reinvigorate the country. His foreign policy is punchless and enticing for evil potentates to inflict their will. And Obamacare is a failure on a magnitude that goes beyond any thesaurus to describe.

His oratory can’t carry a room anymore. And after six years of aloof, misguided leadership all that is left of Obama’s presidency is caput mortuum—worthless residue.

In these midterm elections, the Democrats right now can lose up to 30 seats in the House—though 15 to 20 is a more likely number. And the Senate? Well, a net gain of nine seats is very much doable for the GOP, but four to seven seems a much more realistic prediction in the first week of March.

To their credit, the Democrats will fight hard (and dirty) to minimize the damage. And they will go right to Page One of their playbook. In short, the Republicans are evil. The problem for the GOP is that they make this incredibly easy for the Dems to frame. For you see, if any group is the true embodiment of the axiom ‘give them an inch and they take a mile,’ it is the Republican Party.

The GOP could play it safe. They could put together a cadre of solid, intelligent candidates that would tap dance to the finish line. But, that is not going to happen. What we will get from the GOP is a group of loony Tea Party agitators and Libertarian nutjobs (REDUNDANCY ALERT!) who have as much mass appeal as lead pillows.

Why take an easy victory and change things incrementally when you can scare the crap out of Middle America with a slate of nominees who make Madame Defarge come off as a pacifist?

The Democrats have absolutely nothing to run on. Any Dem in a tight race will run like hell from Obama and his six years of flummoxing inadequacy. You would sooner see a school-sponsored keg party at BYU than you will see Obama campaigning for candidates in Louisiana, or North Carolina, or South Dakota, or West Virginia, or…yeah, pretty much anywhere.

And do not think that the heir apparent, Hillary Clinton, will give a boost to the Democratic cause this November. Between the ongoing fog of what happened in the Benghazi attack coupled with Hillary’s “restart” with Russia, Hillary might want to lower her profile until the presidential debates start up—which I believe is next Wednesday.

Hey! I just got an idea! Maybe Obama and Hillary can convince Vladimir Putin that the Russian-speaking residents of the various battleground states would be endangered by Republican victories. Putin could send in troops, suspend elections and restore order.

Much can happen in the next eight months. Obama can somehow be the beneficiary of a good outcome with the Ukraine problem. The economy could suddenly turn. Obamacare will never be good, but it can be tepidly accepted. And the Republicans can shoot themselves in the foot with a herd of fanatical candidates who make the Democratic argument of “we suck, but look at those guys!” seem plausible.

What a damn shame that Frank Underwood is not real. I doubt he would unite the Democrat Party and lead them to victory. But he would rid himself of dead weight by throwing it in front of a speeding train. And truthfully, if the Democrats can’t kill off a few people who stand in their way of political success, then they don’t deserve to win.