It's Time to Place Bets on Trey Gowdy

| Thu May 8, 2014 9:35 AM EDT

A friend of mine who follows these things more closely than me has suggested that maybe, just maybe, Trey Gowdy won't be quite the lunatic I think he is once he revs up the Benghazi select committee. Sure, Gowdy is a tea party true believer, but she thinks he actually has a smidgen of fair-mindedness about him, and looks at this committee as a way of gaining some respectability:

I don't think Gowdy is into the more bizarre conspiracy theories. He's not entirely convinced the military did all they could have, he thinks the administration hasn't played straight in the way they handled the PR — and of course is beside himself with outrage about not having gotten that Rhodes email pre FOIA court case — and he thinks State bungled security overall. He's right on the third point, the second is a matter of perspective, and a couple one-to-ones between him and General Ham or whoever would almost certainly deal with his remaining doubts on that score.

Maybe! But Dana Milbank isn't so sure:

Asked by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough about the possibility that his panel’s work would continue into the 2016 election campaign, Gowdy replied that “if an administration is slow-walking document production, I can’t end a trial simply because the defense won’t cooperate.”

A trial? And the Obama administration is the defense? So much for that “serious investigation” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised....But [Gowdy's] honesty is refreshing, and it confirms what seemed implicit in Boehner’s selection of the second-term South Carolinian to head the panel over more experienced and less combative colleagues.

It's true that Gowdy is not a Jason Chaffetz kind of character: a slick, soulless young pol who wants to climb the greasy pole and is willing to adopt whatever views will get him to the top fastest. He's a little more genuine than that. Still, he's also a tea party nutball, and I doubt he'll be able to rein in those instincts for long. He's doing his best to seem sober and responsible right now (doing an interview with Charlie Rose!), but my guess is that he can't keep it up. He'll be in Dan Burton territory before long.