Godspeed, Trey Gowdy.
For the first time in nearly a decade, Republican members of Congress will have to oppose an expanding progressive movement without our strongest congressional voice, Harold Watson Gowdy III. Recent voices have attempted to emulate Rep. Trey Gowdy by appointing themselves as the heir apparent. Though these individuals are often more combative and shrill, none have succeeded in taking the mantle from Mr. Gowdy as the most powerful and effective Republican voice in all of Congress.
There is not one ounce of superficiality in Trey Gowdy. He has never sold his soul to the media by only preaching to the choir. From a selfish perspective, I am saddened to see him depart – though I certainly understand the wear and tear on Members of Congress who continuously engage in our national discourse and face the stress it brings on their families.
President Harry Truman relayed, “if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Maybe he just didn’t have the right colleagues. Sen. Tim Scott, Rep. John Ratcliffe, Gowdy and I connected weekly to talk about life, family, faith and a little policy. Tim and John are some of Trey’s closest friends, and I was grateful to join them over the last couple of years. Washington can be an isolating place at times and I always looked forward to the banter at each other’s expense – usually instigated by Gowdy. At dinner, whether people wanted a picture or were simply expressing their appreciation, I can hardly remember an occasion when multiple individuals did not visit our table. Yet, Gowdy never declined and was gracious to all.
Serving with Mr. Gowdy on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was a real learning experience. I have watched witnesses attempt to control their visible nervousness as Trey performed a surgical-like five-minute verbal dissection. The panel member would often be clueless on how to respond to Mr. Gowdy’s line of questioning or cross-examination. Whether it was James Comey, Martin Shkreli or Peter Strzok, Chairman Gowdy relentlessly pursued the truth and would not tolerate obfuscation or circumvention.
A few months ago, a couple of talking heads attempted a coordinated effort to undermine or discredit Mr. Gowdy’s credentials. They didn’t get far. The attackers quickly subsided after being rebuked, not by Trey or his colleagues, but rather the American people appreciative of Gowdy’s extensive and dedicated work. Recently, Elizabeth Warren discovered the same pushback on her ill-advised tweet falsely claiming Mr. Gowdy was leaving Congress to become a lobbyist.
Many people have witnessed his God-given talent, but few people knew of the intense preparation on Gowdy’s part as a seeker of justice and not a self- promoting showman. He was responsible for uncovering Hillary’s private server and emails. He was also undeterred in fighting for the victims of the Benghazi attack. His passion for the abused, the underprivileged and those who have been wrongfully hurt was evidenced in his daily efforts. It was a calling and life’s work for him.
For all his skills, Trey Gowdy’s greatest attribute may be his authenticity in standing up for all communities. He walks the walk. His last speech in December at the Library of Congress had nothing to do with his own accolades or accomplishments, but rather honored Speaker Paul Ryan and others who have spent time in public service.
Trey’s heart for service is genuine. Though most members of Congress are quickly forgotten, Gowdy’s combination of character and skill will be remembered, though not replicated, for years to come. His family, Terri, Watson, and Abigail, as well as parents Novalene and Hal, can be proud of the way Trey made a real difference, not just an argument.
Godspeed, Trey Gowdy. America is a better place because of your service and I’m a better person because of your friendship and example.