Mining a Crisis for Political Gold

Written by Robert Knight

“You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste. It’s an opportunity to do things that you would otherwise avoid.”

So said former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was President Obama’s chief of staff and an astute practitioner of smashmouth politics.

It’s worth remembering this as the Democrats and their media do everything they can to hype the dangers of the Wuhan coronavirus.  Not that it isn’t deadly serious. It is. People are contracting it and dying, all over the world, and it has cratered the U.S. economy.

But here are three items you won’t hear much about: Only a handful of children in China have contracted the virus.  Factories are reopening and hospitals are closing in Wuhan, where the virus was centered. And in South Korea, the epidemic appears to be leveling off amid mass testing, with the fatality rate for deaths from infections less than 1 percent.

The Wuhan virus, re-dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, was first identified in December. The communist government covered it up at first, quarantined the city and then confined 60 million people before the virus began leveling off in March.

Now, Communist China’s internet trolls are accusing anyone who uses the term “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese virus” as xenophobic.  A Chinese military portal is claiming that the virus is a biochemical weapon developed by the U.S. to target China.  The Communist Party is spreading the idea that the virus was brought over to China by U.S. military personnel in October.

This is reminiscent of when the Soviet Union spread the rumor that the CIA had created the AIDS virus.

The Wuhan label has been around since the story broke, as documented by the Media Research Center, which compiled a montage of dozens of journalists using the phrase.

On Thursday, Joe Biden accused President Donald Trump and anyone else who calls it the Wuhan virus as “xenophobic.”  Pretty soon, Joe will accuse people of being anti-ornithology for using the term “bird flu.”

The first case of Wuhan coronavirus in the United States was reported on Jan. 21, and the Trump administration issued a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone coming into the country from China’s Hubei province.   On Jan. 31, the Trump administration announced tighter travel restrictions.

That same day, Joe Biden told a crowd in Iowa: “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia – hysterical xenophobia – and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science.” A few days later, he railed against “reactionary travel bans,” saying they would worsen the problem. No one in the press corps seemed curious as to how letting in fewer infected people would worsen an epidemic.

Conversely, in their Feb. 4 letter to HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar II, U.S. Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rose L. DeLauro (D-CT), praised the administration for declaring a “public health emergency” and requested more funds for several activities, including “mandatory quarantine of travelers” and “enhanced screening at ports of entry.” What a couple of xenophobes.

Other Democrats, however, followed Mr. Biden’s lead and unloaded on Mr. Trump. U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel (NY) called travel bans imposed by the U.S. and other countries, “racist and discriminatory.”

On March 5, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took to the pages of USA Today to accuse Mr. Trump of being “incompetent, political and reckless.”  Unlike himself, a mild-mannered communist.

No matter what Mr. Trump does, he will be accused of 1) reacting recklessly; 2) reacting too slowly; 3) being racist; 4) ignoring medical advice, and 4) treating the health crisis as a partisan issue.

The Left has two good reasons to gin up hysteria. They think they’ve finally found a silver bullet to take down President Trump, and they have an opportunity to create permanent government expansion through emergency legislation.

The same kind of folks who concocted the 2,000-page Obamacare legislation behind closed doors tried to slip Democrat socialist wish list items into emergency legislation. Last week, White House officials said that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tried but failed to insert language circumventing the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for abortions.

Another attempt was mandatory paid leave, which might sound good in an emergency, but could become a permanent dictate to businesses with 15 or more employees.  Pro-business groups have opposed it for years as a job-killing measure.  Crisis, meet opportunity.

Any delay in ramming through further legislation will afford Democrats a chance to do what they do best: accuse opponents of lacking compassion. And racism. Always, racism.

Sometimes, you’re deemed awful even if you’ve uttered nothing offensive.

[Last] Thursday, the Washington Post ran a five-column photo and feature article about First Lady Melania Trump addressing the National PTA Legislative Conference about online bullying.  “Be best not to mention it?” was the snarky headline. The writer complained that Mrs. Trump had discussed her topic without referencing the coronavirus.  The runover page headline was: “First lady’s talking points don’t include covid-19.”

Could you imagine the Post giving Michelle Obama the same treatment?

If Mrs. Trump had said anything about the virus, they would have seized on it and ripped her up one side and down the other.  She can’t win.

It’s all part of mining the crisis for political gold, which may well turn out to be fool’s gold before this is over.

Robert Knight is a Townhall contributor. His website is