Should Democrats Boycott the Benghazi Committee?

| Tue May 6, 2014 2:35 PM EDT

Nancy Pelosi wants John Boehner's select committee on Benghazi to have equal representation from Democrats and Republicans:

“If this review is to be fair, it must be truly bipartisan,” Pelosi said in a Tuesday morning statement. “The panel should be equally divided between Democrats and Republicans as is done on the House Ethics Committee. It should require that witnesses are called and interviewed, subpoenas are issued, and information is shared on a bipartisan basis. Only then could it be fair.”

....House Democrats have not yet committed to appointing members to the committee. Her call for the committee to be evenly split could set the stage for boycotting the panel if Republicans rebuff her suggestion.

Good luck with that. I'd say the appointment of Trey Gowdy—a tea party attack dog with a grand total of 40 months of seniority—to lead the committee is a pretty good indication of just how bipartisan Boehner wants this thing to be. In short, not even the teensiest, tiniest little bit bipartisan. This is going to be a made-for-Fox extravaganza, and that's that.

So should Democrats just boycott the committee and let Republicans howl into the wilderness all by themselves? That's a really hard question, isn't it? My first instinct is to say yes: it's obvious that Democrats will have no influence on the committee, and attending does little except provide it with a veneer of legitimacy.

On the other hand, it's pretty easy to cherry-pick witnesses and testimony, and having someone there to cross-examine the Republicans' pet conspiracy theorists might prevent more than a few bad news cycles. Then again, it might not. It's not as if the reporters covering this stuff aren't already well aware of the timelines of what really happened.

Decisions, decisions. I'm not sure that boycotting sets a good precedent, but if ever there was a committee that deserved it, this is the one. In the end, though, I'll bet Democrats show up. Not only are they afraid of the possible damage from a committee run amok, but they're probably loath to give up their chance for TV time. Brace yourselves.

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