Is "House of Cards'" Most Principled New Character Also a War Criminal?
We asked a law professor and former US Navy surface warfare officer if Rep. Jacqueline Sharp would be prosecuted in the real world for killing innocents.
Democratic congresswoman and war vet Jacqueline Sharp (played by Molly Parker) is one of the most sympathetic characters on the Netflix political drama House of Cards. In a series populated by dark, purely self-interested, and/or corrupt characters, Sharp is something of a refreshing outlier. She is smart and strong, particularly when in a room of cynical, powerful old men. She is generally a kind and upfront person. She demonstrates an aversion to unethical deal-making. And she isn't a heartless mass-manipulator on the scale of Vice President Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey).
"I don't think that this character is a sociopath. I think that she has a conscience," Parker said of her character. "I think that she's a principled woman in terms of her point of view, her perspective as a soldier."
However likeable or principled she may be, could she also be the show's first war criminal?
In the first episode of season two, Underwood informs Sharp that he wishes to have her succeed him as House Majority Whip. When she asks why he is so adamant, the morally bankrupt Underwood reveals that he picked her because of her "ruthless pragmatism" in wartime. He asks her about the number of missile strikes she ordered during the war, and how she ordered them knowing many innocent women and children would perish in the attacks. "I had orders to eliminate the enemy," she says, rationalizing the civilian casualties. "I watched apartment buildings, entire villages, gone, like they were never there."
Her actions clearly haunt her. In a subsequent episode, when she is in bed with her lover, she confesses in sorrow that she "killed a lot of people," before she tells him to continue bringing her to climax.