I don’t know how you’d pronounce it – perhaps “Eye-OWE-kay-arr” – but it’s an acronym for “It’s OK, If You’re A Republican”, and it seems to be the guiding ethical principle for today’s GOP. Any perceived offense or violation of ethics by a Democrat calls for immediate condemnation – at a minimum. But a similar or even greater offense by a Republican is of no consequence as long as the alleged offender is in good standing with the party.
A Democrat is found to have made a tasteless joke years before he entered politics? Sorry; he’ll have to resign. A Republican has many credible accusations of sexual assault in his history? Nothing to see here; he won’t do it again. The Democrat president’s son has just released a book? Even though the publisher bought the manuscript before Dad became president, that’s still nepotism! We must investigate! The Republican president puts several family members in high level positions, bypassing normal background security checks, and his son publishes a book? Meh, no big deal.
The best instance of this hypocrisy can be seen by comparing the responses to a pair of deadly attacks on government facilities.
On September 11, 2012, in response to a video insulting the prophet Muhammad (PBUH), a terrorist cell in Benghazi attacked the US Consulate, resulting in the deaths of four Americans1.
On January 6, 2021, spurred on by a speech from the Republican president, a mob of thousands stormed the US Capitol, resulting in the deaths of five people.
Almost immediately afterwards, investigations were launched into the failures of security and intelligence in Benghazi. By the time things wrapped up, eight Congressional committees had looked into the matter to find faults, assign blame, and recommend fixes.
I don’t know of any official, formal investigations that have even been proposed into the obvious security failures on January 62.
It’s OK, if you’re a Republican.
Since she was Secretary of State at the time, and therefore bore the overall responsibility for security at our embassies and consulates, Hillary Clinton was summoned to give testimony before one of the Congressional committees. She spent eleven hours doing so.
The president hasn’t been called to give evidence – in person, remotely, or even a statement – in his impeachment proceeding concerning the attack on the Capitol.
It’s OK, if you’re a Republican.
Early on in the Benghazi investigations, it was found that Secretary Clinton was using a private e-mail server instead of an approved governmental one. Even though no breach of security was ever found (the most they found was that some e-mails that should have been declassified still bore “classified” marks), the impropriety haunted her all through her presidential campaign and arguably cost her the election.
Early on in Trump’s term in office, it became known that some of his family – who were given positions of importance in the White House despite not having proper security clearances – were using open and easily hackable e-mail accounts. This was a mere blip in the headlines.
It’s OK, if….
Even before the whole “Benghazi Affair”, Hillary Clinton was accused of all manner of wrongdoing, including assassination of her potential political rivals. The pathological hatred for her led some Republicans to call for immediate impeachment proceedings if she happened to win the 2016 election, and then tie her up in so many hearings that a Clinton Administration would never be able to get anything done. And today, she is still being accused of belonging to a satanic cult that practices ritual cannibalism. Not only is there absolutely no evidence for any of this, there’s no calls from Republicans to “knock it off.”
During his campaign, all manner of issues about Trump were made known. His “creative” accounting to dodge taxes. His failure to pay contractors – even his own attorneys. Two dozen credible accounts of sexual assault. Unexplained financial ties to Russian oligarchs. The peculiar changes about Ukraine to the party platform at the national convention… Any one of these would – and should – have doomed any other candidate. None of this raised even a single eyebrow in the GOP.
And despite all his – to put it as nicely as possible – “questionable” behavior in office (violations of the Emoluments Clause, cozying up to Vladimir Putin, extortion of an ally leading to an impeachment, etc.), the Republican Party has been unmoved and refuses to openly criticize him.
IT’S OK, IF YOU’RE A REPUBLICAN.
1. It was pretty obvious (to me, at least) at the time that the video spurred the attack, and the consulate was a “target of opportunity” for the terrorists. Earlier that very same night, a huge mob surrounded the US Embassy in Cairo, angrily protesting a video accusing Muhammad of all sorts of nonsensical garbage. My guess is that the terrorists in Benghazi saw news coverage of that mob, and decided to blow the dust off their plan to attack the consulate, figuring the American infidels would see it as just another protest, and would therefore be sluggish – at least – in their reaction.
2. And there’s plenty of grounds for investigation. Who was giving tours of the Capitol the day before – and why? Were any of the police officers actually helping the mob? Why did it take so long for additional security forces to be called in?