Don't Try 'House of Cards' Politics at Home

North Carolina's governor learns it doesn't always work out like on TV shows when he offers protesters cookies.

Actor Kevin Spacey as Rep. Frank Underwood in the show House of Cards. (National Journal)

If people think politics is like the show House of Cards, more often than not they'll likely be disappointed. The latest example comes from North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

The Republican signed a bill Monday restricting access to abortions throughout the Tar Heel State, and he has been met with considerable opposition from abortion and women's-rights activists. But during a protest outside the Governor's Mansion on Tuesday, he greeted the protesters with a plate of cookies. Yes, chocolate-chip cookies.

Walking up to one of the women protesting, he said, "These are for you. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you," according to The Charlotte Observer, and walked back inside.

They didn't take it well.

Without even trying one, the protesters put the cookies under the mansion's gate with a note: "We want women's health care, not cookies."

A chant soon followed: "Hey Pat, that was rude. You wouldn't give cookies to a dude."

From the local Planned Parenthood chapter's Facebook page:

"Hey Pat, we want women's health care, not cookies! We will remember this condescending move!"

Now, there are a few reasons why the governor might have decided cookies were the best option here:

  1. He might have sincerely thought it was a nice gesture.
  2. This could have been mansplaining in one of its worst forms.
  3. He just watched an episode of the Netflix hit series House of Cards.

Let's try Option 3 for a moment.

In the fifth episode, the fictional Rep. Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, is met with loud protests from education advocates outside his wife's fundraising event. In an attempt at turning the negative media coverage around, Underwood leaves the event with leftover food and beer.

"Don't take the food. We'll feed you later," says union leader Marty Spinella.

Cue Underwood's political savvy:

"Marty, you know that old saying, 'The most dangerous spot in the world is between a Teamster and free food,' " Underwood chimes back.

And who could resist free barbecue? "I'll take it!" says one protester, and so ends the demonstration. Underwood prevails again.

McCrory did not receive this sort of reaction — actually, quite the opposite. Just another case of: No, your life in politics or Washington or wherever is not like House of Cards or The West Wing.