Rep. Trey Gowdy (J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Trey Gowdy (J. Scott Applewhite)

House Democrats should not boycott the special committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks. Sure, Republicans are just doing this as a naked political move to gin up their base now that Obamacare is a raging success. And they are on the Benghazi bandwagon to muddy up former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in anticipation of her presumed run for president in 2016. But Democrats need to be at the table to serve as a check on the predictable excesses of the GOP majority.

Getting to the bottom of the Sept. 11, 2012, murder of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, in Libya is a must. The perpetrators should be brought to justice. And changes should be made to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel in hot spots overseas. Instead, Republicans remain in a tizzy over talking points. A flurry of fevered questions about what was said, when it was said and who said it.  The fact that embassy security funding was cut seems to have fallen from their focus on casting blame.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (l) and Rep. Darrell Issa (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Rep. Elijah Cummings (l) and Rep. Darrell Issa (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

This is one of many reasons Democrats are needed on Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-S.C.) kangaroo court. Even if the makeup of the special committee is seven Republicans to five Democrats, those are five more voices to push back.  And by push back I mean the kind provided by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) as the ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. From “Fast and Furious” to the never-ending probe of the IRS, Cummings has not shied away from holding committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) accountable for overzealousness, rhetorical flights of fancy and selective editing of documents and omissions of material.

The Democratic members of the impending Benghazi special committee must serve the same function. If Republicans insist on refusing to govern for the rest of this Congress and perhaps through the 2016 presidential cycle to try to embarrass them, Clinton and President Obama,  then Democrats must use the time to return the favor.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.