Weekly Feature

2018-02-08 / Editorial

Simple humility rises against backdrop of FBI memo

Managing Editor

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the content of last Sunday morning’s array of political commentary television shows. It is a time of hard talk, gridlock and, at times, genuine despair.

So when Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, was at the top of the lineup for “Face the Nation,” the tone was distinctly different. Gowdy was one of the key authors of the House Intelligence Committee’s now-declassified memo about the application under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to surveil former Trump official Carter Page.

His demeanor, candor and poise were refreshing. He was diplomatic and professional.

Unfortunately, his spotlight on Sunday came days after he announced he would not seek re-election. I feel a voice of harmony and patience will be lost on Capitol Hill.

“My wife hates it when I say this, but I was a pretty good prosecutor, I think. But I’ve been a pretty lousy politician. I’ve done it for seven years. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do it, but it’s time for me to – whatever time I’ve got left – I want to spend it in the justice system because that’s where my heart is,” he told CBS moderator Margaret Brennan.

“Why do you say you are a lousy politician?” she asked, somewhat surprised.

“I see multiple sides of a single issue. And the fact that someone disagrees with me does not make me challenge their love of the country. It doesn’t make me believe that they’re corrupt,” Gowdy said.

“I’ve got a lot of friends on the other side of the aisle. We disagree on this issue, but I don’t question their love for the country. I don’t think the end justifies the means. I think the manner in which we get places matters, and in politics too often winning is the only thing that matters. And look, every hero I have has lost. Every one of them. So losing is not the worst thing in the world. Not knowing what you believe and not caring enough about it to fight for it? That’s the worst thing in the world.”

For six years as a federal prosecutor, Gowdy prosecuted the full range of federal crimes, including narcotics trafficking rings, bank robberies, child pornography cases and the murder of a federal witness, according to his House website. He received the highest performance rating a federal prosecutor can receive for two consecutive years.

He did not shy away from the looming fear that more heads will roll at the hands of President Donald Trump, sparked primarily by the Russian investigation. “Rod Rosenstein is a former United States Attorney, and again, I have differences with the way that they [the Department of Justice] discharge their responsibilities. But there’s a wide gulf between me having differences from somebody and think that they should lose their job,” he said. “I’ve actually never met President Trump. Never had a conversation with him, and he certainly should not ask my hiring advice.”

His official announcement last week threw some added light on his frustration.

“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system. As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.”

Back on TV, he spoke volumes.

“In politics, it’s just about winning. And I don’t want to live like that,” he added.

(David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of 286,500 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.)

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