If you’re on the defensive on an issue, what do you do? A smart politician changes the subject. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) is a smart pol. No doubt that’s why House Democrats named him as the ranking member on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. (The “Select” in the title means just that: members were chosen for this special task; they didn’t just age in by seniority.)
Ruiz is also an M.D., and so he knows full well that the public health establishment is on the defensive on the origins-of-Covid issue. As we all remember, back in early 2020, it was considered “racist” by the media and the academy to speculate about the Chinese origins of the Covid virus. And the medical establishment was right there: Here’s the Yale School of Medicine, cheering on censorship—a censorship that Big Tech was happy to impose. And speaking of racism, who can forget that during the worst of the pandemic, the Deep Health State wanted to declare racism to be the real“public health crisis.”
The godfather of this mental lockdown, of course, was former National Institutes of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci. He first said that the risk from Covid was “minuscule,” then said concern about China’s role was just a “shiny object,” and on and on.
Yet by 2023, Fauci had retired, and the “Blue Wall” of liberal orthodoxy had been broken. Too many wall-busting revelations! A February 28 poll found that 44 percent of Americans think that Covid-19 came from the virus lab in Wuhan, China, while just 26 percent think it occurred naturally. And that was before reports about the Energy Departmentand the FBI concluding that the global pandemic, which has killed nearly seven million and sickened nearly 700 million was a lab-leak.
So then was coming the March 8 hearing of the Select Subcommittee, when a panel of experts was prepared to testify on the origins of Covid. Among them was Dr. Robert Redfield, M.D. a career virologist who served as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Trump administration; he has been saying publicly for years that Covid was likely the result of a lab leak. Why, if a credential expert such as Redfield talks like that, who knows where it could lead, in terms of recriminations?
So what to do? Again, for Democrats—at least if they wish to defend Big Health, which they do, as it’s a key part of their blue base—the best strategy was changing the subject. So in his opening statement, Rep. Ruiz began by praising the Biden administration for its work, and then added a portentous, “However.” The California lawmaker declared himself “alarmed” that Republicans had allowed “someone who wrote a book applauded by white supremacists on the panel.” Look! Racism! Now that, they hope, is a subject-changer.
Ruiz was referring, not to Redfield, but to another of the panelists, Nicholas Wade, a former science writer for Nature, Science, and The New York Times, who had written on the likely lab-origins of Covid back in 2021. Wade had also written a book, nearly a decade ago, that Ruiz didn’t like; one can look here and judge for oneself. For his part, Wade hotly denied that he was a racist, but the fight was on. Left-wing Twitter ate it up.
Once Ruiz had set the tone, another Democrat on the panel, Rep. Kweisi Mfume of Maryland, piled on, “I am a bit appalled that this hearing now gets layered over with the issue of race in a very strong way.” Waving a copy of Wade’s book, Mfume continued, “I am absolutely offended that you would have the opportunity to take this platform.” One headline in a DC-insider publication: “House Democrats denounce GOP COVID witness as having racist views.” Mission accomplished!
To be sure, Redfield still got his views across: “I still believe today that that Covid-19 more likely was a result of an accidental lab leak than the result of a natural spillover event.” And when asked about gain of function research—which Fauci strongly supported and perhaps was “untruthful” about later—Redfield said, “I think it probably caused the greatest pandemic our world has seen.”
So Wednesday’s hearing is likely to add momentum to the push for a greater inquiry on the origins of Covid—perhaps a bipartisan commission. But in the meantime, sticking up for their allies, some Hill Democrats gave it their best.
James P. Pinkerton, a former White House domestic policy aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and is a former Fox News contributor.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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