Now that we’ve all had a chance to watch the second season of House of Cards (if you haven’t, what in the world have you been doing the past two weeks?) and that Scandal has returned, I thought it would be fun to throw Frank Underwood and Olivia Pope into the political ring. Two fictional political heavyweights enter. ONLY ONE LEAVES. Spoilers abound. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Now then, if this was a fight between President Fitz Grant and Frank Underwood (I refuse to refer to that maniacal miscreant as “President”), Frank would win, hands down. Fitz is an idiot. He’s reckless, he’s irrational, he’s got no control over his administration, and he always manages to pick the wrong time to be easily swayed by the circus around him. Frank would play him the same way he played President Walker (Walker is also an idiot, but for different reasons). There wouldn’t even be a chance for B613 to eliminate Frank, because Frank would use B613 to his advantage before Fitz ever even found out that B613 existed.
But before we start, there’s a question of which “Washington, D.C.” each character is in. Are we in the House of Cards version of D.C. (where somehow things are incredibly efficient, political alliances are more about personal gain and seeking revenge than solving problems, and where everyone except Frank and Claire is incredibly naïve and stupid)? Or are we in the Scandal version of D.C. (where Congress basically doesn’t exist, everyone is sly as a fox, guns run rampant, and alliances are created to solve crises – not to take down opponents)? In the end, it doesn’t really matter because Olivia is 100 times more astute than any of the characters on House of Cards. Even if Frank stepped into the political world that exists in Scandal, he wouldn’t be able to survive. Olivia would outsmart him (or Jake – against Olivia’s wishes – would send someone in B613 after him).
Reasons Frank could win
- Frank knows how to play mind games. Olivia may put on a tough demeanor, but she’s got some deep-seeded psychological issues.
- Frank has the ability to make certain people disappear mysteriously. Or should I say he had the ability. Now that Doug is dead, who’s going to do Frank’s dirty work? Maybe he’ll hire Pope and Associates. He might blackmail Olivia into helping him by threatening her prison time for her and her entire crew of misfits for aiding and abetting a terrorist or hiding the rigging of an election.
- Frank’s world apparently lacks security cameras or voice recorders or anyone with a conscience. This would make it easy for Frank to completely destroy Olivia (politically or even physically) without leaving behind any solid evidence.
- Frank is extremely persuasive, and he holds a lot of power in Washington. He could cut Olivia off from key players in government. He could convince everyone to refuse to speak to her. He could destroy her entire reputation.
Reasons Olivia could win
She is much more trustworthy than Frank. Although, pretty much anyone in the entire world is more trustworthy than Frank. His lone henchman is long gone, and Olivia still has her team of Gladiators (and sometimes Cyrus).
- Olivia isn’t stupid like everyone else in the House of Cards world. She wouldn’t be easily fooled, and she would probably question everything Frank does and says. She would never trust him.
- Olivia isn’t afraid of powerful people – even powerful people who could kill her.
- She knows how to spin things to the public and the media. She’s used to crises (assassination attempts, helping her mother escape the country, dismissing rumors about her relationship with the President, hiding election rigging, etc.).
- She’s got some insanely impressive investigative skills. Unlike Lucas, a.k.a. the worst-investigative-journalist-in-the-world (Zoe Barnes comes in a close second in that category), Olivia would be smart enough to look at all the security footage of the night Zoe died. She would look at who went into the station, what time they went in, where they walked, blah blah blah. She would easily see Frank conspicuously “hiding” in the construction area (that was the worst/cheesiest incognito outfit I have ever seen. REALLY, BEAU WILLIMON? REALLY?). She would get her team to question the Secret Service agents, she would find medical files on Claire, and the list goes on and on. Frank doesn’t know how to do any of that. Nor is he smart enough to cover his tracks in the times when he needs to the most.
- And lastly, Olivia could always just hit Frank upside the head with her giant Prada handbag.
But in the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter who wins this political battle, because they’ve both lost the war. By the time it’s all said and done, they will have aired so much of each other’s dirty laundry that they will both be in prison for a very very long time.