To paraphrase Lord of the Rings, a day will come when we can conduct a fair and impartial look at our pandemic preparation, but … today is not that day. Nor will it be tomorrow, or next month, for that matter. Rather than focus on the crisis at hand, however, Democrats in Congress want to kick-start an investigation into Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Perhaps that November election date is getting too close for comfort?
Informal discussions have begun on Capitol Hill about the possibility of creating a panel to scrutinize the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that would be modeled on the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to four people familiar with the discussions.
They described the discussions as “very preliminary” and involving mostly congressional Democrats.
One option could be a plan to review the administration’s response in the annual National Defense Authorization Act, two of the people said.
The review would focus on lessons learned about the government’s preparedness and what the administration could have handled better, they said, adding that the goal would be to come up with a better plan to handle a pandemic in the future.
Maaayyybeeee this could be done sooner rather than later if the people involved are seen as relatively fair and non-partisan. If the effort gets led by someone with significant credibility when it comes to crises and controversial issues, who can — ah, never mind:
After Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we looked at what went wrong to learn from our mistakes.
Once we've recovered, we need a nonpartisan commission to review our response and how we can better prepare for the next pandemic.
I’m working on a bill to do that.https://t.co/uqO3BwVldN
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 1, 2020
If there’s one person in Congress who shouldn’t be any part of such an effort, it’s Adam Schiff. He spent most of two years fueling conspiracy theories about the Russia-collusion hysteria, including making factually false statements about having evidence of specific collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence. Schiff drove the impeachment over Ukraine-Gate as well, a ridiculous exercise over swampy politics, whose pettiness is now fairly well established in the light of a true national crisis.
For the record, the 9/11 Commission didn’t even get started until fourteen months after the 9/11 attack. Why? The actual prosecution of a war on al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as the broader war against Islamist terror networks around the world, was a much higher priority. The last thing the country needed at that time was to have the Bush administration hamstrung by investigators demanding documents and testimony from officials who had more acute and pressing matters to handle.
That is precisely where we are at now in this pandemic. This is not a moment in which we should be demanding documents and testimony. If the point of such a commission is to better prepare for the next pandemic, then let’s wait to see what works and doesn’t work over the course of this pandemic. At that point, after an election and with the perspective that time and distance provides, then we can assess what happened before and during the crisis.
Besides, this is particularly rich coming from members of Congress currently on a three-week-plus break from work. Schiff & Co won’t even be back until April 20, and didn’t bother to put into place contingency plans for remote deliberation and voting on an emergency basis while the crisis was in full swing. Maybe we need a commission to determine why the House didn’t even hold its first hearing on COVID-19 until March 3rd? We could put Sean Hannity in as co-chair, who would be every bit as non-partisan and serious about it as Schiff. Puh-leeeze.