"I don't hold grudges, Frank. I just don't negotiate with people who are fundamentally deceptive."
|Alias(es):||Former Vice President of The United States|
|Date of birth:||September 16, 1954|
|Profession:||U.S. Congressman from Vermont |
Vice President of the United States
Acting President of the United States
|Spouse(s):||Marjorie Blythe |
|Played by:||Reed Birney|
|Seasons:||1, 2, 3, 4, 5|
|First episode:||Chapter 1|
|Appears in:||5 seasons, 4+ episodes|
Donald Blythe is an American politician of the Democratic Party and the 50th Vice President of the United States, serving under President Frank Underwood first term. Blythe is a former Member of the House of Representatives from Vermont. He is one of only 3 other Vice Presidents to serve as Acting President of the United States, The others being Vice President's George HW Bush and Dick Cheney. He assumed the duties of the office when he and the cabinet invoked section 4 of the 25th amendment, following the attempted assassination of incumbent president Francis Underwood. President Underwood later resumed his duties when he returned to the White House.
Known as a way-left-of-center liberal, Blythe was revered as a congressman for his work in the field of education. His entire life's work has been devoted to education reform.
Surrendering the education bill to Underwood
In January 2013, Blythe became an important figure for the newly elected President Garrett Walker's administration that wanted a quick result in education to start the Presidency off on the right foot. Placing education reform at the very top of their legislative agenda, the administration asked for Blythe's education bill draft, seeking to benefit in the public from his esteemed reputation despite being fully aware such a left-leaning bill could never pass in the split House of Representatives where the Democrats held only a slight majority. Furthermore, Blythe's leftist politics do not at all fit with the President's who ran on a moderate platform, but the administration still wanted Blythe's input and blessing largely for cosmetic public perception purposes before letting House Majority Whip Frank Underwood take over the bill to ram it through the House. The idea on the administration's part was for Underwood to achieve this by overseeing Blythe and steering the education bill away from the left so that the ultimate goal can be reached - the education bill passing the House within 100 days of President Walker assuming office.
However, scheming Underwood, still reeling from getting passed over for the Secretary of State post, had his own personal revenge agenda, and Walker's administration played right into his hands by entrusting him with this sensitive task. Seeing it a perfect opportunity to ingratiate himself to the President and his Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez, Underwood's involvement in the education bill became the first step in his ambitious long term personal revenge plan of tearing them all down for reneging on their promise to him.
Meeting with Underwood for the first time to discuss the education bill in Underwood's office, Blythe showed him the bill draft. After leafing through it, Underwood placed it in the shredder, making Blythe believe that it is destroyed, however, unbeknownst to Blythe, Underwood stopped the process so that the document mostly stayed intact. Forging an alliance with the young reporter Zoe Barnes of the Washington Herald, Underwood leaked the Blythe's education bill draft to Barnes on Monday, 21 January 2013, the day of the presidential inauguration. In his inauguration speech later that day, President Walker explicitly mentioned education reform, promising quick and immediate results. Barnes' story, based on the material Underwood gave her, made the Herald's front page the next morning under the headline "Education bill far left of center: Ties massive funding package to liberal mandates", causing an uproar within the administration.
Happy at the commotion he had caused, gloating Underwood got summoned by furious Linda Vasquez who proceeded to chew him out over "not being able to keep Blythe in line" thus revealing the administration is wrongly convinced that it was Blythe who leaked the bill draft. Completely relaxed since things are unfolding exactly as he had planned, Underwood assured her that everything is under control, dismissing the situation as "us getting between the mother bear and her cub" thus also reinforcing the false narrative of Blythe deliberately leaking the draft when he felt threatened the administration is taking the education bill away from him. Though still unhappy that this is happening on the administration's first day in office, Vasquez was sufficiently appeased, handing complete reins of bringing the education bill to the House floor in 100 days over to Underwood.
Meanwhile, Underwood had already arranged for six congressional aides to show up to his office in order to sequester themselves and come up with a presentable education bill first draft in a matter of days, the task that would normally take months.
Though he already managed to all but completely squeeze Blythe out of the picture, Underwood still preferred Blythe's voluntary surrender of the bill rather than making an enemy out of the revered Congressman. Underwood went about ensuring this by inviting Blythe over to his office and putting on yet another masterful acting performance. Addressing Blythe in an emotional tone while feigning outrage with the "lying administration that turned its back on you" especially Vasquez "who is furious and looking to point fingers at you", before finally even picking up the phone and instructing his secretary to "give me John King at CNN" right after expressing willingness to "fall on this grenade himself just to piss them off" thus implying he's willing to protect Blythe by taking public responsibility for the education bill leak fiasco, Underwood perfectly anticipated Blythe's rattled reaction. Feeling morally defeated and unwilling to let others take the fall for him, Blythe offered himself as the fall guy before dejectedly adding that his heart's not in this fight and offering the bill over to Underwood, reasoning that he's formidable and that people follow his lead. Continuing his act, Underwood answered he'd only consider it as an option if he knew he can still come to Blythe for counsel to which Blythe offered heartfelt assurances before walking out to face a media scrum, telling them he's "placing the bill in Frank Underwood's capable hands".
Over a year later, in February 2014, Blythe again became important to Underwood who had in the meantime engineered an upwards move to the vice-presidential post and was now embroiled in a behind-the-scenes power struggle with industrialist Raymond Tusk over access and influence on the President Garrett Walker.
Though agreeing to work together several months earlier when Underwood became VP on Tusk's recommendation, each powerful man had been using every opportunity to diminish the other in President's eyes. Seeking a political move that would ingratiate him with the President in the current situation of Congress facing a shutdown, VP Underwood hatched a truly ambitious plan of avoiding the shutdown by quickly passing the retirement benefit entitlements package through the Republican-majority Senate within days thus allowing the President to claim it as a political win in his upcoming State of the Union Address. In addition to major concessions to the Republicans (many of which the majority of the Democrats didn't stand behind), getting the bill to pass Senate required all manner of personal arm-twisting and operational skullduggery from VP Underwood, but in the end he managed to pull it off.
However, within weeks, the bill also needed to be confirmed on the House floor and this required another major push that turned into race against time. Joining his handpicked successor in the Majority Whip post, Jackie Sharp, Underwood temporarily jumped back into his old role - whipping votes by threatening and cajoling in equal measure - even bringing Raymond Tusk's lobbyist Remy Danton into the process as the vote was only hours away. Needing votes quickly, Underwood crossed paths with Blythe again, who after being maneuvered out of the education bill a year earlier managed to put together a 12-man caucus that was now very loyal to him. Getting just half of them to vote for the entitlements bill was all Frank needed from Blythe.
However, still bitter over the education bill, specifically the fact that Frank never once came for counsel while pushing a bill that eviscerated the teachers' unions into law, Blythe told Frank straight up he would not be supporting his latest project, the entitlements bill, under any conditions, believing the current VP and former Majority Whip to be "fundamentally deceptive". Realizing he's got no room for quick maneuvering after offering Blythe some cosmetic changes he thought would appeal to the congressman and getting flatly rejected, VP Underwood even lost his usual cool, insulting Blythe by comparing him and his caucus to the Tea Party movement. Just as Blythe was leaving in a huff, a suspicious powder was found in the Capitol Hill mail, prompting another quarantine while the substance was checked for anthrax and forcing Blythe and Underwood to remain together under lockdown for hours.
In addition to awkwardness stemming from the fact they just had an extremely unpleasant and antagonistic argument, being suddenly locked in a room together without external means of communication was also a major inconvenience for both VP Underwood and congressman Blythe - the vice president had been scheduled to do a live CNN interview with his wife Claire while the congressman needed to call his Alzheimer's-stricken wife Margaery who gets very upset if she doesn't hear from him. They both took care of that by speaking into the phone of one of the anthrax responders, before sitting down and somewhat relaxing the air by drinking scotch. Due to the fact he just learned of Blythe's severely ill wife, Underwood struck up a conversation on the topic of Alzheimer's research funding, at one point promising to see to it that funding levels are increased. However, rather than interpreting this as an act of good will, Blythe saw it as Underwood's further disingenuous attempt at securing the congressman's caucus votes for the entitlements bill. It got him even more incensed at the vice president. The lockdown continued and it was decided that Claire would do the CNN interview by herself. It aired live and Underwood and Blythe watched it together while being locked down; the compassionate congressman was deeply moved by Claire's rape and abortion bombshell. Once the lockdown ended, the two men parted on more-or-less amicable terms despite not being able to come to terms politically. With less than hour before the entitlements bill was going on the House floor, the Underwood camp still hadn't secured the votes, still needing four.
Upon hearing from Underwood about his failure to sway Blythe, Jackie Sharp took over on the fly - targeting Blthye's well-known bleeding heart by confronting him with the staggering amount of people about to be left without social security should the Congress shut down. Though stubborn at first, Blythe eventually relented though seemingly not at the potentially affected people, but at Jackie's suggestion that she's "not Frank Underwood" and her personal plea to work together going forward. He gave up four of his caucus members, instructing them to vote for the bill, which is all Underwood and Sharp needed. The entitlements bill passed the House and Congress shutdown got avoided.
Vice President of the United States
Representative Blythe was nominated by President Frank Underwood to fill the office of Vice President of the United States that was vacated upon Underwood's ascension to the role. It is revealed that Frank only appointed him so he would be unable to cause trouble for him in Congress, and that he would be easily accepted by the Republican leadership due to the recent death of his wife. The Republicans confirming Blythe as Vice President could also be due to the fact that if Underwood had been re-elected and Bylthe decided to run for his own Presidency, Blythe would most likely be easily defeated or they know if something happened to Frank before 2016, Blythe would be unable to win the election of 2016.
Thoughtful, compassionate, and considerate, Blythe made education the focus of his congressional career. However, while a charismatic legislator, he is a weak leader, too hesitant and emotive to gain fast decision, specially under pressure.
Considering drafting policy to be his strong suit, he is self admittedly no good at the wheeler-dealer brand of politics. Frank Underwood considers Blythe "a martyr always looking for a sword to fall on," while journalist Zoe Barnes thought of him as a tax-and-spend liberal, which is his reputation on the Hill that often precedes him.
Blythe's wife of 30 years, Marjorie, suffered from Alzheimer's disease, all of which puts added pressure on the congressman who, although heartbroken and dejected over his wife's condition, is very attentive and helpful.
|Vice President of the United States|
January 13, 2015 – January 20, 2017
| Succeeded by|