So we are now being told by WaPo’s Robert Costa and Mike DeBonis that the House Republican Conference will meet tonight to discuss the Speakership, at which time we will probably find out if enough members of the the House Freedom Conference will tug their forelocks to enable Paul Ryan to come out of the wings and accept the gavel. Aside from a compliant Conference, Ryan is demanding to be relieved of the Speaker’s usual heavy burden of fundraising chores. And if there’s a better parking space than the Speaker’s, he’ll probably ask for that, too.

If things don’t come together for Ryan tonight, all hell could break loose, with new candidates for Speaker popping up in every direction. And that in turn could distract from and complicate the House GOP’s other big event this week: Hillary Clinton’s testimony before the Benghazi! Committee on Thursday.

The hearing has already very rapidly devolved from a dangerous trap for HRC to a moment that could discredit the Benghazi! Committee once and for all for anyone who doesn’t live in right-wing fever swamps. It’s not clear Trey Gowdy and company can ever completely recover from Kevin McCarthy’s bone-headed boasts about the whole investigation’s political motivations. And then more recently, Gowdy himself has screwed up twice: once by falsely implying Clinton associate Sid Blumenthal had leaked the name of a CIA source, and then by accepting campaign contributions (now being returned) from people running nasty anti-Hillary ads centering on Benghazi! allegations.

Now, one would suspect, Gowdy and company have a basic decision to make going into Thursday: either to try to regain some independent credibility for their endless probe, or to just cut capers for the “base” and hope partisan instincts (along with MSM animus towards Clinton) make the whole thing a draw.

For all I know, the Speakership brouhaha could even overshadow HRC’s testimony. That’s certainly not what bloodthirsty House Republicans were anticipating before McCarthy fragged them.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.