How to Run a Country According to “Scandal”

Scandal ends this week, so in honor of that, I put together a quick list of everything I’ve learned from that show.

First up, if you’re not take-my-breath-away-attractive, you don’t have a place here. Leave. Get out. No one wants your boring, plain face running our take-my-breath-away-attractive country.

Jake Scandal

Now that that’s settled, there should be only beautiful people left. Good. Now, let me ask you something: Do you find power attractive? That is to say, are you drawn to positions of power or people who hold positions of powers? Of course you are, everyone is. Now, are you willing to allow your quest for unlimited power rule every single aspect of your life in an unhealthy, manic, clinically insane way? Are you willing to literally backstab, hurt, compromise, and ultimately abandon everyone, everything, and every principal you’ve ever had in your life in this quest? Basically, is getting you to White House (I’m sorry, “the Oval” as they call it,) ruling your life like the ring ruled Frodo’s life, Lord of the Rings-style?

Can you talk with! such! conviction! and! such! passion! every single time you open your mouth that everyone who hears you immediately obeys your every word? Oh, and this one is really important, when you argue, can you speak so quickly and with such on-point immediate comebacks that it will sound like knew this argument was going to happen two weeks ago and you’ve had a speechwriter planning your every word in advance?

Scandal Earn Me
You forgot to say “sir.”

Last thing: Are you willing to compromise the well-being of a country of 325 million people because the person you’re having an affair with suggests you do so?

Yes? Fantastic. Let’s begin.

Hello, beautiful and completely untrustworthy people. Congratulations, you are ideal candidates for the role of President of the United States of Shonda Rhimes’ America. Just follow these simple step-by-step instructions in order to have an effective reign tenure as President.

1. Be smart about national security, but stupid about personal security.

If you’re a married man elected to public office who has a smiling wife at his side, perfectly suited for the role of First Lady, you go right ahead and have the most obvious affair on Earth. Seriously, I want that affair to be so easy to discover that people who live on the other side of the planet and don’t know anything about you except your name can just look at a picture of your face on their newsfeed and just know that you’re currently cheating on your wife. Make sure you’re very public about it, too – shove it in everyone’s faces, carry on in front of security cameras and open windows. Invite your mistress in on every important meeting so that she can have an input. Who cares about security clearances, she’s pretty and brilliant. No need to elect or nominate her for anything, it’s fine.

Scandal WTF
In fact, if you could make out with your mistress in front of a window on inauguration night, that would be ideal.

2. Go ahead and air that dirty laundry.

Your husband is having an affair? Not cool. You’ve got a couple of ways to handle that: confront him, ignore it, go to counseling with him, serve him up some divorce papers, etc. Any of the above. Or, of course, you could hold a live, nationally-televised interview in which you tell the entire country that the honorable man they voted for to serve as their president is a dirty dog. There are absolutely no negatives repurcusions to that plan at all, and it’s very well thought out. And Mr. President, when your wife reveals the very obvious affair to the public, I’d like to encourage you to publicly divorce her. While holding the office of President. But not before you check your approval rating, of course. Which brings me to:

3. How it looks like you’re doing your job is more important than how you actually do your job.

It doesn’t matter what’s best for the people, it matters what’s best for your approval ratings. Every time you make a move, double-check to see what the American public thinks about it. Act like an insecure boyfriend who is afraid his girlfriend is going to break up with him if he gets anything wrong; change your mind at her every whim. That being said, if the American public doesn’t approve of something, and it seems like something you shouldn’t be doing it, ask yourself this: Is it something you really, really want to do anyway? In that case, go ahead and do it.

4. Ignore all advice, do what you want.

We get it – you’re smart. You went to Harvard or Yale or whatever. A lot of people went to good schools. Some of them run the country, some of them write blogs about trying Coca-Colas in as many cities as possible. Anyway, having a brain is super overrated when you can just follow your heart… Or, you know other parts of your anatomy. If you don’t like someone’s advice, just do what you want.

President I can Scandal
His favorite phrase.

5. Declaring war is so not a big deal.

Listen, I get it. Olivia Pope is one of a kind. She’s smart, fearless, pretty, strong, etc. She’s got a fantastic wardrobe and an even better apartment. She can drink large glasses of red wine on a white couch and never spill a drop. She also occasionally has a pretty great boyfriend who is INFINITELY SUPERIOR TO YOU IN EVERY WAY. I’m gonna go ahead and suggest you openly get into a fistfight with him while serving as president. And when said ex-mistress gets kidnapped by terrorists and held for ransom, you go right on ahead and follow the terrorist’s demands to the letter and declare war as they direct you to. Sure, you’re sending countless Americans into battle to face certain death, but your girl on the side is safe, and that’s what matters. (Quick reminder that she never asked you to keep her safe, but several hundred million Americans did. But don’t let that bother you.)

Dancing Jake gif
Dude from Felicity > President of the United States

6. There are no consequences for your actions.

Your mistress may dump you every once in a while before eventually getting back together with you, but that just makes her all the more braves and smart and all those things you love about her, right? Other than that, you’re fine. Nothing bad will happen to you – you’re untouchable. Continue doing whatever you want, for as long as you want. And don’t you dare let your conscience bother you.

Scandal sigh
The most powerful man in the world.

6. Drink. Drink a lot. 

This is pretty self-explanatory. There will be no drawbacks to this course of action. No one will ever notice that the Commander in Chief smells like scotch at 7 a.m., and certainly the press corps will not pick up on the fact that you’re slurring your words during speeches. Again, remember that there are no consequences for your actions.

7. Let your staff handle everything else.

I know I covered absolutely zero political tasks in the above list – nothing about the balancing the budget, keeping our country safe, or even reducing unemployment. And I didn’t mention those on purpose because guess what? Not your job, buddy! No, the actual running of the country goes to the people all around you, so don’t worry your pretty little head. You’re Regina George. Let Gretchen Weiners do all your dirty work.

President Snow
A better president than Fitzgerald Grant

P.S. Just a note to everyone who’s like “I bet this isn’t that far off from the reality of being President.”Sure, you may be right. It may be scarily accurate. But I’d just like to point out that President Grant on Scandal is (well, WAS back in the early seasons) supposed to be this pillar of honor and honesty and just all-around the greatest man to have ever walked the face of the earth. Which is hilarious. In terms of Shonda Rhimes characters, McDreamy could run the country better than Fitzgerald Grant could. Heck, even McSteamy could. Even GEORGE could. (And I don’t think there’s any question that if Christina Yang & Miranda Bailey ran on a joint ticket, they’d win with 100% of the vote.)

Bailey Yang
Yang/Bailey 2020