After promising explosive investigations, the House GOP is holding hearings that have so far landed as duds, at least outside the Fox News cinematic universe. Josh Marshall at TPM asks why:
Some point to Jim Jordan not having the organizational abilities or chops to run impactful hearings. Others point to Jordan getting crosswise with the other top GOP investigator, Jim Comer. The most obvious explanation is that they’re just lame and underwhelming because they don’t have the goods. But even that doesn’t work as an explanation because the same could be said about the previous times we did this under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Something’s different.
I wish I knew what the difference was. I’m not sure. I keep thinking that it’s McCarthy signing over too much of the reins to the Freedom Caucus. Or maybe it’s that the right-wing media bubble has become too insular. It may be all of these things. But each is either not really different from the old days or is just a circular argument. So I’ve struggled to figure it out.
Marshall examines two additional factors that may be behind the hearings coming off as sad, low-energy affairs outside the wingnut-o-sphere, including more energetic pushback by the Democrats on those committees. I think that’s absolutely a factor.
Democrats like Reps. Goldman, Plaskett and Raskin called bullshit on the “weaponization” subcommittee proceedings and thoroughly exposed the witnesses Jim Jordan called to testify. They didn’t pretend the hearings were a good faith effort to get at the truth and responded to GOP colleagues and witnesses with the contempt and/or incredulity they deserve.
The other factor Marshall cites is the ETTD principle coming home to roost:
They’re backward looking. They are a particular kind of grievance-driven special pleading that only really matters to a minority of the electorate. And at core they’re mostly about Donald Trump.
I think that’s right too. Trump’s grievances are the subject of these dumb show trials, and his House disciples are running them. In other words, low quality hires are in charge, so of course the results have been underwhelming.
Jim Jordan was on the Benghazi committee too, but he wasn’t running it. Trey Gowdy was, and while Gowdy may be evil, he, unlike Jordan, is capable of abstract thought. There’s the difference.