Daughter of ex-member stresses that 'House of Cards' is fiction

The daughter of a former congressman wants the world to know: political spouses aren’t devious like the TV shows might have viewers believe.

In a weekend editorial called “Respect the congressman’s wife” for USA Today, Mary Lou Judd Carpenter, daughter of the late Rep. Walter Judd (R-Minn.), writes that her mom Miriam wasn’t at all similar to the calculating House majority whip's wife that Robin Wright plays in the Netflix hit, “House of Cards.”

“Today, the public may see the congressional wife as a conniving partner in ‘House of Cards,' but Miriam was different,” says Carpenter. “She was a loyal spouse and devoted mother who also found energy to inspire an American boycott of Japanese silk stockings. And she led the integration of the District of Columbia chapters of the YWCA in the 1960s.”

Carpenter says she can “empathize with those married to members of Congress who have just gone through this grueling budget fight,” calling her mom and other congressional spouses, “observers on the political front lines but not participants.”

The daughter of the 10-term lawmaker — who died in 1994 — notes the sacrifices her mother made for her husband’s work on Capitol Hill, writing, “In spite of my parents' deep devotion to each other and the exciting moments of treaty conferences and many social events, her life was lived primarily apart from my father's activities and emotional commitments.”

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In a collection edited by Carpenter of her mom’s writings, compiled in the book Miriam’s Words: The Personal Price of a Public Life, the House member’s wife says she raised her three daughters “virtually single-handed.”

But by 1981, when Judd was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Reagan, Carpenter says her parents stood together at the White House ceremony, writing of her mom, “In her own way she had finally found freedom within the confines of being a congressional spouse.”