Terry H. Schwadron

June 23, 2021
Hey, Good News that you may not have noticed: Republicans have a Plan to hold China accountable for the coronavirus pandemic.

The only thing they don’t have is actual evidence that China either accidentally or intentionally let the virus escape from a government research lab in Wuhan.

Apparently the crime doesn’t matter. The important thing is the punishment needed — and, as an added bonus, to sideswipe Joe Biden and Democrats along the way for trying to get people vaccinated rather than for caring enough about punishing China.

Fox News and Breitbart News headlined remarks by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy as if none of this has ever been discussed. “Our country was dealt a significant blow by the coronavirus and the Democrats in Congress and the White House have no plan to hold China accountable,” McCarthy wrote in an open letter to the House GOP conference on Monday.

So, McCarthy stands ready with legislation to do just that.

Specifics include:

· Pushing to strip Beijing of the Winter Olympics next year

· Allowing wrongful death lawsuits against China in U.S. federal courts by those who lost loved ones

· Banning U.S. tax dollars going to places like the Wuhan Institute of Virology and to any gain-of-function virus research being conducted by China

· Demanding a counterintelligence investigation into the World Health Organization (WHO) and for its director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom to resign.

· Creating sanctions and visa restrictions on those responsible for covering up the pandemic.

Indeed, as McCarthy outlined it, the blame lies not even with the lab, but with the “deception of the Chinese Communist Party,” which, of course, in turn blames the U.S. military for leaking the virus.

But good news, McCarthy’s announcement ought to fix everything that went wrong across the globe. No one I know wants to defend the Chinese government for being less than forthright about the disease spilling beyond its borders, but what exactly the point here is besides Blame is a little hard to see. Plus, wouldn’t it be good to know what actually happened, to prevent a recurrence?

If only believing were enough to find the answer, this would make more sense.

Thanking Trump, As If

McCarthy cites a British study that countless numbers of the 600,000 Americans who died — and 3.8 million globally — could have been spared if the Chinese had fessed up “one, two or three weeks earlier.” Evidence continues to indicate that the CCP intentionally hid information and lied about what it knew to be true about the virus., he said, leading inevitably to the idea that the CCP “and their conspirators must be held accountable.”

He then praised American resilience and thanked Donald Trump for underwriting vaccine development and creating a nationwide testing program.

Of course, he skipped over the chaos in the Trump administration towards recognizing and acknowledging the beginnings of a pandemic, in resisting testing protocols, in issuing a string of bogus “treatments” that eventually were found to be medically ill-advised, in questioning and berating scientists and medical advisers giving him advice, in doing little to encourage vaccines as his presidency was ending or afterwards.

Indeed, The Washington Post highlighted a new book by two of its reporters, called “Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History,” by journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta that captures the dysfunctional response to the pandemic, including a scene in which Trump demanded sending all coronavirus patients to Guantanamo for holding.

A separate review of the lab’s public records and internal guidelines shows that any eventual discovery of the pandemic’s origins will be made more difficult by the existence of classified projects and discussion of the lab’s responsibilities under China’s state secrets law. Some records mention protocols for disclosing information to foreigners and the sealing of some research reports for up to two decades.

As to the lab leak, we are awaiting a Biden administration directive to U.S. intelligence agencies, who are split on the question, to advance what they do know about a leak. And Biden, who admittedly did re-start funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), has been upfront about asking them to dig harder into whatever gap there is between what China did and what it said it did.

Of course, none of the complications nor Biden’s actions have deterred McCarthy, who said that Biden “has failed to utilize any of his broad powers to hold China accountable and has willingly given up valuable leverage to force constructive change at the WHO” and that American cannot count on Biden or the Democrats in Congress to do anything to hold China accountable. So, political gain apparently is just is as good as actually finding out what caused the pandemic.

If you believe it to be true, apparently that’s good enough. Let’s get to the punishment!

While We’re Investigating. . .

Now, this is the same Kevin McCarthy and Republican caucus who won’t look at what gave rise to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the very building in which they meet, and it is the same caucus that wants to blame Black Lives Matter for almost everything that goes awry in this country, without looking at such issues as gun proliferation, policing techniques and training, police abuse and rampant racism and sexism.

But blame someone far away in manner that cannot be proved, and McCarthy and chorus are right on key.

Republicans who regularly remind that states should control elections, aid packages, health and more — rather than the federal government they represent — have no problem telling China what they can and cannot do.

Indeed, McCarthy reminded us that none of the various Republican one-shot China punishment bills proposed has gone anywhere, so it must be a Democratic plot to protect the Chinese.

McCarthy wants “declassification of intelligence” about the origins of the disease, which Biden also has said, and a ban on any research “gain of function” projects with China, and a restriction on National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding from going to any “Malevolent Foreign Governments.”

Maybe China can have the Summer Olympics create a new contest for Consistent Logic.

In the end, McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, Trump and Republicans will be asking us again to trust their leadership in deciding American policy to make us safer, more prosperous, more in touch with an idealized American Dream. It would be easier to do so if they based their thinking on reality.



Journalist, musician, community volunteer