House Speaker John Boehner officially tapped Trey Gowdy on Monday to lead a new special committee that will escalate the Republican-led investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Why did a two-term congressman get tapped for the position? It might be in part because of how damn good Gowdy is at being dramatic.
Let's take a look at a recent floor speech from the South Carolina Republican, in favor of a rather theatrical bill called the ENFORCE act. That bill would allow Congress to sue the president when his administration decides against enforcing laws — conservatives are furious that the executive branch has used its powers to change how the government handles some undocumented immigrants, tweak the deadlines of the Affordable Care Act, and end federal enforcement of gay marriage bans.
Here, listen to Gowdy use his trademark shouty voice to list a series of quotes from "Obama, the Senator," which Gowdy uses to argue that even the liberal Obama would have agreed with the bill as a legislator. Already dubbed the "We Make the Law" speech, it got a lot of attention and accolades in the conservative press.
Although Gowdy also attracted conservative notice for his role in the Oversight Committee investigations into Fast and Furious and the IRS, he has a particular passion for the Benghazi issue, and argues there was a deliberate White House cover-up after the deadly consulate attacks. And he's a former prosecutor, which means that he makes up for what he lacks in congressional experience with his unshakeable confidence in the morality of his cause. His aggressive questioning sessions during the Oversight Committee's Benghazi hearings approach the territory of justice porn for his conservative base.
In a September hearing, Gowdy went after Admiral Michael Mullen, one of two men behind the State Department Accountability Review Board report on Benghazi. He focused on the issue of 1) whether then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally knew about security issues at Benghazi, and 2) whether Mullen ever interviewed Clinton on the Benghazi attacks. Gowdy also wanted to know whether Mullen interviewed Barack Obama. Although Gowdy didn't get anywhere, conservatives, once again, were pretty pleased with his performance.
And here's Gowdy on Fox News, doing his outrage thing after Susan Rice refused to apologize for telling the Sunday talk show circuit that the Benghazi attacks were result of an internet video:
With the select committee hearing chairship, Gowdy will have at least until the fall to give the performance of an election cycle.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.