Better UTAH Beat Episode 49 – May 21, 2013

The news the last few weeks has been aflutter with talk of scandals: Benghazi, IRS, and AP phone records. Republicans are mad, Democrats are mad, journalists (perhaps rightly so) are mad. But Republicans are especially mad. And the degree to which they will protest is reaching new heights.

Benghazi has been called “the most egregious coverup in American history.” But what about Nixon? Surely that was the most egregious coverup in American history? Well, there’s an answer to that, too, as Republicans have started to calling the Benghazi attacks “Obama’s Watergate.”

And now, Utah’s own Congressman Jason Chaffetz has started trotting out the I-word: Impeachment.

Chaffetz has been on a war path ever since a fact-finding mission he took to Libya last October to investigate the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi where four people were killed, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. Much of the ongoing discussion around the scandal revolves accusations about how much the White House knew, when they knew it, and, based on that knowledge, what they decided to disclose. Despite overwhelming evidence that the White House operated in good faith based on the security information given to them by the CIA, Republicans are insisting some sort of cover up was involved.

In an article in the National Review, Chaffetz doesn’t mince his words: “This is an administration embroiled in a scandal that they created,” he says. “It’s a cover-up. I’m not saying impeachment is the end game, but it’s a possibility, especially if they keep doing little to help us learn more.”

The Congressman doth protest too much.

But Chaffetz is on a warpath and there seems little to persuade him otherwise, even as his own leader, Republican House Speaker John Boehner, urges restraint: “Now, the speaker has more patience than I do,” Chaffetz says. “He has told me to be patient, that the truth will eventually surface. But I’m not a patient person, and if this administration makes us do this the hard way, that’s what we’ll do.”

With so much bluster on the national stage by Republicans, you’d think there would be a little righteous indignation regarding scandals happening at home, like the one Attorney General John Swallow currently finds himself in. But in an interesting reversal to what is going on nationally, Utah Republicans remain largely silent on this scandal.

Nationally, scandal-mongers are threatening to upset the capacity of our leaders to engage in the business of governing. But here in Utah, the possibility of an actual scandal has left our leaders unusually quiet on the issue. With the exception of a few of Utah’s great statesmen like former Senator Bob Bennett, who suggested in a recent column that Swallow should take an administrative leave of absence, Utah leadership remains silent on an issue that is shaping up to be a real credibility problem for Utah.

What explains the difference?

How’s this for an interesting twist on an old thought experiment: If a scandal breaks in a room full of Utah Republicans and no Democrat is around to hear it, is it still a scandal?

The point is this: corruption, unethical behavior, law-breaking and law-bending are all wrong, no matter what your party affiliation or position of authority may be. But the obvious witch hunt that is occurring on the Benghazi and IRS scandals, versus the lack of any sort of comment on the Swallow scandal, shows just how partisan scandal is in the United States. Would the same Republicans that are condemning Obama still be condemning him if Obama were a Republican? And if he were a Republican, would Democrats be the ones mounting the charge to impeach?

This is Maryann Martindale with this week’s edition of the Better UTAH Beat.

Have a great week, and remember, together, we can make a better Utah.

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