The Scandalous Side of Dirty Hands

All you Olivia Pope fans out there have probably realized by now that an episode of Scandal is essentially just a review of everything we talked about in class that day. Those of you who have never seen the show, my first suggestion is for you to start watching it, immediately. Scandal newbies, here is the briefest description I can give you (although read on with caution; there are spoilers).

Olivia Pope is a fixer; she makes people’s – mainly politician’s – problems go away. Her biggest client just so happens to be the President of the United States, Fitzgerald Grant. This gives the viewer a fascinating look into the inner workings and politics of the White House (yes, I know this show is fiction, but a lot of it could very well have happened). Now that you have the basic premise, I want to talk about Cyrus Beene, the President’s Chief-of-Staff.

The picturesque set of the show, the White House

Mr. Beene has some very dirty hands indeed: he has ordered hits on rival politicians, fixed elections, revoked citizenships, etc. While he claims to act for the good of the people and the Republic, does the end really justify the means?

Let’s use the example of election rigging. Towards the end of the Presidential campaign, Republican Governor Grant was down a few points behind the Democratic candidate, Senator Reston. Grant is clearly the better person for the job – he has first hand experience in the military, truly cares about each and every American citizen, and his proposed policies are excellent – but a myriad of factors, including the fact that he refused to use attack ads against Senator Reston, caused him to be behind. One week before the election, Cyrus, along with a few others, decided to rig the votes in one crucial county in Ohio. Fitz became President – he had no idea that it was by dirty means – and went on to be loved by the people, at least in the first seasons of the show.

White House Chief of Staff, Cyrus Beene, played by Jeff Perry

Cyrus justified his actions by saying that he fully believed that Grant was the right man for the job and that he deserved to be President. I think, however, that his actions were a gross example of going too far. Whether or not Fitzgerald was the right person for the job is irrelevant. One phone call on Cyrus’ part was all that was needed to take away the Constitutional right of millions of American citizens. Yes, murdering Reston would have been a worse way to get the same result, but in both cases the uncertainty of the outcome was not imperative enough that the rules had to be broken. Senator Reston would have been a fine President. His policies would have obviously been more liberal, but ultimately America would not have been that different.

The topic of the end justifying the means is definitely a fuzzy one, but I believe that immoral methods can only be justified if the security of a nation or people is in jeopardy or if it is being used to combat evil. Cyrus Beene, election rigging does not fit this criteria.

One thought on “The Scandalous Side of Dirty Hands

  1. This was a really great article! I love scandal and really enjoyed the connection you made with the show and our studies in polsci 101. The dirty hands problem is clearly present in Scandal and is the reason why Olivia Pope has a job in the first place. The election rigging is just one of the many instances of dirty hands in Scandal. Although Cyrus Beene was a major player in this election rigging, a lot of other people were involved, such as Olivia Pope. Attributing this election rigging all to Cyrus is technically correct, but other individuals had major roles in this and thus all the blame should not be placed on Cyrus. In this situation, I agree with your point that the ends do not justify the means for this instance of dirty hands and that Cyrus and the other members of Grant’s staff’s actions went too far.


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