But when the South Carolina Republican chaired his panel’s first public hearing Wednesday, Gowdy did something completely unexpected: He played it straight. There was no discussion of talking points or stand-down orders, and only one of the seven Republicans on the panel — Jim Jordan of Ohio — even mentioned Clinton. Instead, Gowdy adopted as the theme of his first hearing an idea suggested by one of the committee’s Democrats, Adam Schiff of California: How well the State Department has been implementing recommendations to prevent future attacks on U.S. diplomats like the one in Libya two years ago that killed four Americans.
It is, of course, possible that Gowdy will later return to his incendiary ways. He may be building up credibility now before taking a more partisan approach later. But he deserves credit for defying expectations in his admirable debut.
Kevin Drum echoed Milbank's surprise and skepticism on Mother Jones.
Go ahead and call me a stone partisan blinded by my own ill will toward Republicans, but come on. Gowdy doesn't need to be taken to the woodshed by anyone. This is just well-played theater from a guy who's a mite smarter than the usual tea party crackpot. He's gulling everyone into treating this like a serious investigation so that he'll have some credibility stored up when it comes time for the hundredth repetition of the stand-down myth or the latest insane parsing of the White House talking points. That's what this is all about.
I'll apologize if Gowdy manages to keep the tone of this hearing civil and judicious all the way to the end. But I'm not too worried about having to eat any crow here.
Stay tuned. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.