The Washington Post doesn’t just want a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol. It also wants a commission to investigate “how the pandemic response was bungled.” (These words appear in the subtitle of the Post’s editorial, paper version.)
The Post’s goals are the same for both commissions: to attack Donald Trump and to divert attention from the failure of the Biden administration to come to grips with illegal immigration, rampant violent crime, China, etc.
I argued that there should be no Jan. 6 commission here. In this post, I’ll argue that there should be no commission to investigate the pandemic response.
The Post’s call for a commission stems from its premise that the pandemic response was “bungled.” It wasn’t — not in any sense that would justify the government investigation the Post contemplates.
Last year, the world was confronted by a deadly virus it didn’t understand. A friend compared the coronavirus to an alien force with superior technology. Until we developed counter-technology — a vaccine — there was no effective way to combat the virus.
The U.S. did no worse than should have been expected to limit deaths from the virus. Our per capita death rate is similar to nearly all the countries it make the most sense to compare us with. We were all shooting in the dark.
This doesn’t mean there are no questions worth probing. There are questions any time a catastrophic event occurs.
One question is whether it made sense to keep children out of classrooms once we got a handle on how the virus affects kids. Hint: It did not.
Another question is whether the lockdowns imposed should have been as severe and long-lasting as they were. This question requires, among other things, an assessment of the economic and psychological damage caused by lockdowns (as opposed to the economic and psychological damage that would have resulted from the pandemic alone and from deaths that may have been prevented by lockdowns). The question may not be answerable with anything close to certainty until we have a better sense of how long-lasting the adverse effects of lockdowns will be and how resilient Americans are these days, in general.
The Post’s editorial does not mention these issues as possible matters to investigate. That’s one giveaway of the Post’s intent.
Perhaps the most interesting question is the origin of the virus. Did it originate in the “wet markets” in Wuhan or in a Chinese lab there? But as the Post acknowledges, China is determined to prevent a meaningful investigation of that issue.
So there are questions. But the existence of questions doesn’t mean we need a government commission to investigate them. The questions will be studied ad nauseum by researchers and analysts in and out of government. If we’re lucky, some of the researchers and analysts might even be relatively objective.
The government commission the Post desires won’t be. The Post wants the investigation to be “chartered” by Biden or by the Democratic Congress.
The interests of both are clear. They want to make Donald Trump look as bad as they can, to do the same to Republican governors who ended lockdowns relatively early (or never imposed them), and to make Democratic governors like Gretchen Whitmer look good. They want a brief ready in case the Republicans nominate Trump, Kristy Noem, or Ron DeSantis in 2024.
Let them prepare their own brief — one that doesn’t come with an undeserved government seal of approval.