Smart politics twice over. Part of the reason Boehner agreed to the select committee was to unify the party ahead of the midterms; after Ben Rhodes’s e-mail became public, refusing to form a committee would have been another flashpoint between the party establishment and the grassroots to go along with amnesty and increasingly tepid opposition to ObamaCare. It stands to reason that if you’re going to do something to placate your base, you might as well choose a conservative in good standing for chairman too. If he’d appointed a centrist and the committee came up with nothing, righties would have accused him of a whitewash. They can’t do that with Gowdy in charge, and if Gowdy comes up with nothing too, then Boehner can distance himself from it by saying it was largely a tea-party production all along.
The other reason it’s smart politics is that not only is Gowdy a respected prosecutor, he’s consistently one of the most dynamic members at House hearings. (You’ve watched enoughclips of him on this site to know that.) Boehner doesn’t know what he’s going to get by way of evidence but he will insist on some political payoff from this ahead of the midterms, and Gowdy’s just the guy to deliver that. You want clips of John Kerry or Hillary Clinton sweating under a tough cross-examination to dominate the day’s news cycle on cable? He’ll do that for you better than virtually anyone else.
One question, though. Will Democrats participate in the committee? Here’s Adam Schiff telling Chris Wallace yesterday on FNS that he thinks the party should boycott. I hate to admit it but that’s sound strategy.