Late last week, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, one of the more prominent figures in Republican media, declared the “Most Valuable Republican of the 2016 election cycle so far.” His choice? Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).
As a rule, this isn’t the sort of thing GOP insiders are supposed to acknowledge out loud (or in print). The official party talking points insist that Gowdy isn’t some random partisan hack, but rather, is a serious, above-the-fray public servant, whose leadership of the House Benghazi Committee is entirely non-political.
Kristol’s message offered a peek behind the curtain, acknowledging what everyone knows, but few admit: Gowdy’s role is about the 2016 elections, not about the terrorist attack that left four Americans dead three years ago.
It is, after all, Gowdy’s congressional committee – the eighth Capitol Hill committee to investigate the 2012 attack in Libya – that’s taking the lead in exploring Hillary Clinton’s emails, fueling the fire of a “scandal” that, at least for now, hardly seems to exist.
The South Carolina Republican was on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday and fielded a good question from host Chris Wallace:
WALLACE: Congressman, I want to ask you a question that when I told folks that you were going to be on this show that they asked me, why is all of this your business? What does this have to do with investigating what happened around Benghazi?GOWDY: Well, probably not much of anything…. [M]y focus is on the four murdered Americans in Benghazi, but before I can write the final definitive accounting of that, I have to make sure that the public record is complete.
Well, that’s half of a decent answer. The far-right congressman was on firm ground when he said his “focus is on the four murdered Americans,” though it was soon followed by a “but,” which effectively negated the first part.
We’re talking about a congressional panel – in the midst of the longest congressional investigation in the history of the United States – whose sole focus is supposed to be on the three-year-old attack. Now, it’s focusing on unrelated emails and its chairman is picking up MVP awards from partisan media activists.
Postscript: Part of the problem with the Clinton email controversy is few seem able to say with any specificity what the Clinton email controversy is, exactly. We know it has to do with emails. And servers. And something related to the State Department classifying information in emails after they were sent.
My suspicion is that Clinton’s critics are doing everything possible to keep the story alive because it creates a cloud of nefarious uncertainty – the Democratic frontrunner is accused of doing something wrong, even if no one can say what that something is or why it matters.
But eventually, it’d be helpful to know why the story is being driven by a Republican congressman who’s supposed to be investigating terrorism, instead of going on Sunday shows and talking about Clinton’s poll numbers, as Gowdy did on Fox yesterday.