ABC’s Scandal returns for its seventh and last season which means it has less than one year to dole out its crooked view of American politics to a public that couldn’t be sicker of the subject at this point. To kick off the fall, the series wastes no time in dusting off the old liberal talking points with the "right" to a free higher education.
In the October 5th premiere “Watch Me,” Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) works through her first 100 days as president. One of her first pieces of legislation, in honor of the assassinated president-elect, includes a bill to pass free college in the nation.
Since this show is fictional, the bill actually has a chance of passing Congress with her administration defending the cause at all corners. One of those defenses includes Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) making the rounds on talk shows with a Founding Fathers quote - and a bizarre racism charge.
Olivia: "The whole people" –
Pryce: Please don't quote me Adams.
Olivia: "The whole people be willing to take upon themselves the education"...
Pryce:[ Sighs ]
Olivia:..."Of the whole people"...
Pryce: She's quoting Adams.
Olivia:..."And must be willing to bear the expenses of it."
Pryce: Terrific. Bravo. Founding fathers. I am very impressed. My question-
Olivia: Yes, Curtis, what is your question?
Pryce: Who pays for it? Who gets stuck with the check?
Olivia: The ones who can afford it -- corporations who've gone decades without paying taxes. "Sacrifice" wasn't always a bad word in this country.
Pryce: Why is it always Washington elites constantly lecturing regular folks on what they should sacrifice?
Olivia: Was that your Mercedes I parked next to this morning?
Pryce: My mom is an immigrant. My father was a longshoreman. I was the first in my family to go to college at 24, after I volunteered building shelters in Central America.
Olivia: I could spend the next six shows dismantling your anecdotal systemically racist, "Pull yourself up by the boot straps" argument. But I'll keep it simple -- It doesn't fly.
Pryce: I wasn't ready for college at 18. It's reasonable many Americans don't want to foot the bill for someone's six-year keg party.
Olivia: That's very narrow thinking, Curtis.
Pryce: And your head is in the clouds, Ms. Pope.
Olivia: Do you honestly believe what you're saying?
Pryce: I don't say anything I don't mean. That's why I'm sitting where I am, and you're Olivia Pope. Okay, you are supremely talented. But keeping it real? [ Scoffs ] It ain't one of your talents.
Olivia: I think you're losing your audience, but to get back on track -- college is a benefit to almost every individual who attends. So, if we're telling it like it is, let me run down some numbers, real facts that will actually –
Pryce: Unfortunately, that's all the time we have here today. Thank you, Ms. Pope, for coming on to the show. We'll see you tomorrow -- Same time, same Pryce, more power.
You have to love how they call the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps mindset instilled in the child of an immigrant as “systematically racist.” Once upon a time, I would think that assuming minorities weren’t skilled or smart enough to afford or earn a scholarship for a college education without complete government assistance was in itself racist. Liberals can hide behind the words “free” and “benefit” all they want, but they can’t change the tens of billions of dollars of debt this bill would cause for people of all races. And that cost is next to nothing compared to the plummeting value of that college degree. Don't think those evil corporations are going to pay for it, it will hit the average citizen hard.
Unfortunately, the pandering does not stop there. Vice President Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) attempts to persuade a dissenting Democrat representative who refuses vote on the bill based solely on the fact that it’s being passed by a Republican. As a bonus, she offers him the chance to "take the long view" and push the bill himself as a Democrat president in four years following the next election cycle.
Although it’s almost a surprise to watch the Democrat being treated as the petulant party member for once, that doesn’t change the scene that follows. It’s bad enough that the show puts a distinctly-leftist bill in the hands of a Republican president, but the show also puts us through yet another lecture on the "morality" of free college.
Cyrus: I've thought about your offer. It makes a lot of sense.
Greenwald: I thought you'd see that.
Cyrus: Unfortunately, your plan has one significant flaw. It's wrong.
Greenwald: Come again?
Cyrus: Ask yourself why was free college part of the Democrats' platform? The answer is because it's what's good for this country. Diane, America needs this.
Greenwald: And America will get it. But from the party that promised it to her all along. This win can be ours. Come on, Cy. What's four years?
Cyrus: It's four years too long is what. It's four years during which every high-school freshman in this country won't work as hard as they might if they believed their government gave a damn about 'em. Four years of high-school graduates moving into low-skilled jobs because they can't afford to take on student loans. And, yes, it's four years during which your granddaughter, Emily, will finish her career at Princeton without worrying for a second if her family can afford to keep her there, after which she'll have access to opportunities beyond what any mere high-school graduate would even be able to dream of. The ability to pay for college, Diane, it's one of the many things that keeps the rich rich and everyone else screwed. But now, right now, we have the opportunity to fix that. We have a willing President, an enthusiastic House, and enough Senate votes -- with your say-so -- to turn this into law. So like I said, your offer makes sense, but it's morally bankrupt. And if you and your little cadre of cynics show up tomorrow and vote against this bill, I promise both the President and your constituents will hear about how another fat-cat politician would rather hand the other side a loss than give regular Americans a win. [ Door opens ] So...how's that for "Taking the long view?"
Of course, Scandal never takes the time to question things such as why many free tuition programs don't benefit those who really need them. Or how regular Americans will essentially be screwed by millions of dollars in extra cost to support this idea. Or why the average high school student would work hard for an education that, if free, will be worth nothing. Maybe if they backed off some of the talking points and took a look at the real world, these writers could address those points, too. Anything that takes them back from being a propaganda machine can only yield a positive result.
At the end of the day, none of that even matters. The bill successfully passes Congress, guaranteeing a free college education for this fictionalized America. Everyone can celebrate a win for the regular people against the rich fat cats. For a show that’s filled with backstabbing characters and questionable morals, it feels like an odd time to start talking about what’s “good.”