Today, Netflix released the third season of its acclaimed political drama House of Cards, headlined by Kevin Spacey as corrupt President Frank Underwood. Last night, Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States and current candidate for the Knesset, took advantage of the cultural moment to post his own House of Cards-themed political ad. He even took a stab at imitating Underwood’s Southern drawl.
Oren’s Kulanu party, captained by former Israeli communications minister Moshe Kahlon, has premised its run on reforming Israel’s corrupt politics and breaking up the country’s monopolies and cartels. Oren has been tasked with formulating the party’s diplomatic and foreign policy, and has pushed for Israel to take unilateral actions to secure itself and defuse the settlement issue internationally. Meanwhile, the third season of House of Cards will begin airing on Israeli TV tomorrow.
But the story behind this ad is actually better than the ad itself, as I discovered when I asked Oren what inspired him to make it. While serving as Israel’s man in Washington, he explained, “I got to meet the cast of House of Cards.” This included the star, Kevin Spacey. “I told him that Bibi had watched House of Cards and was a big fan of the show,” recalled Oren. On cue, Spacey turned to Oren and intoned in full Underwood mode, “Now, that’s a real politician. Not like all these wimps here on Capitol Hill.”
Now that he himself is running for office, Oren couldn’t resist similarly attempting to merge the world of the show—of which he is an avid viewer—and the world of Israeli politics. He’d actually been working on a Hebrew version of Underwood’s accent (which he gamely demonstrated to me), but ultimately opted to do the ad in English, targeting the Israel’s Anglo community.
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