Richmond Times-Dispatch

Will Biden give in to the Hydroxy Effect?

- Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institutio­n, Stanford University. Contact him at:

As of yet, there is no known, easily accessible cure for COVID-19. Over the past year, lots of old and new drugs and supplement­s— Ivermectin, azithromyc­in, remdesivir, hydroxychl­oroquine, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, aspirin, Pepcid and others — have shown at least some anecdotal value in ameliorati­ng the effects of early-stage COVID-19. Clinical physicians treating patients in hospitals often disagree with the research scientists conducting trials on the efficacy of all these treatments.

Yet only hydroxychl­oroquine has prompted furious partisan debate over its possible usefulness. Why?

Probably because President Donald Trump endorsed its usage months ago. Almost immediatel­y, the media, the university and government medical community, and the progressiv­e political opposition declared hydroxychl­oroquine useless and dangerous. A recent media study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that positive news stories about the research and developmen­t of COVID-19 vaccines barely outnumbere­d negative stories about Trump and hydroxychl­oroquine.

Trump’s presidenti­al endorsemen­t was apparent proof of rank quackery. Yet a few recent second-look studies, especially abroad, suggest that hydroxychl­oroquine — a dirtcheap, time-tested anti-malarial drug— in fact can offer help in treating some cases of COVID-19.

This Hydroxy Effect — hysterical disavowal of anything Trump has endorsed— is dangerous to the country at large.

Trump was reviled for his early condemnati­on of China’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic. He railed against the “China virus” — a traditiona­l eponymous branding of a virus by its place of origin and, in this case, one used by other media before Trump’s adoption of the sobriquet.

Trump alleged that Chinese officials knew for months about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, before letting on about the dangers the disease posed to the world at large.

No matter. Anything Trump said had to be resisted. The Trump travel ban, the Trump accusation­s of China’s corruption of the World Health Organizati­on (WHO), and other Trump criticisms of China all were ridiculed as proof of his racism or intellectu­al puerility.

Now, after the 2020 election and the apparent victory of Joe Biden, we learn from the media that, in fact, the virus had spread much earlier than China had admitted. The utility of travel bans now is a part of scientific consensus. And the leadership of the WHO remains under criticism.

Before 2016, the consensus on China was that it was destined to take over the world. This was the establishm­ent’s de facto defense of profit-making by outsourcin­g to China.

The convention­al wisdom ignored Chinese violations of commercial trade norms, and theft of technology and intellectu­al property. It largely dismissed the complaints of human rights activists who were appalled by China’s reeducatio­n camps, its suppressio­n of political and religious freedom, and its exterminat­ion of Islamic and Tibetan culture.

Now, pushback against Chinese imperialis­m, authoritar­ianism and global bullying is a bipartisan consensus— as long as Trump is not cited as the voice-in-the-wilderness stimulus for such a reset.

This Pavlovian Hydroxy Effect poses a challenge to Biden.

Logic dictates that Biden would not scrap the framework of an effective containmen­t policy of expansioni­st China. Pacific nations such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan appreciate­d Trump’s efforts to corral China. America’s empty “Asian Pivot” of the past has become real in leading resistance to Chinese bullying.

Logic suggests that Biden would appreciate inheriting a more stable Middle East, with Arab states and Israel increasing­ly united against the theocracy in Iran. The emerging alliances seem tailor-made to allow Biden to take credit for still more Arab nations recog-nizing Israel — with both parties investing in the West Bank to offer Palestinia­ns economic parity with surroundin­g states.

Logic dictates that Biden would recapture the lost Democratic working class by mouthing Trump economic agendas without mentioning Trump’s creation of them. Fair (rather than just free) trade, border security, deregulati­on, tax incentives, and unpreceden­ted gas and oil production all created near-record middle-class wage growth— a formerly Democratic staple issue.

So Biden has two choices One, he can appropriat­e many of the Trump successes. He can rebrand them as his own and quibble over particular­s.

Do that, and Biden likely would see a huge post-COVID-19 economic recovery, a stable Middle East, a world united against China’s commercial abuses and human rights travesties, beefed-up U.S. defenses and a refreshed NATO.

Or two, Biden can suffer the Hydroxy Effect. Anything Trump was for, Biden and the left automatica­lly will be against. That would mean a decision to allow unchecked immigratio­n. Freeze constructi­on of, or even tear down, the border wall. Lift tariffs on China. Let NATO members pay as little as they like. Ban or cut back on fracking. Rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. Rejoin the Paris climate agreement. Polarize Israel and its new Arab allies. Fast-track the Green New Deal. Raise taxes sky-high. Let the Rust Belt rust. Allow Big Tech to do as it pleases.

Adopting the Hydroxy Effect and junking anything with a Trump fingerprin­t on it will please the hard-left Biden base. Rejecting it will benefit the country. Of the two choices, I’d bet on Biden giving in to the Hydroxy Effect.

 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? OnWednesda­y, President- elect Joe Bidenwaved to onlookers at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS OnWednesda­y, President- elect Joe Bidenwaved to onlookers at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del.
 ??  ?? Victor Davis
Victor Davis Hanson

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