After the House of Representatives spent the whole day discussing seven bills on China amid frissons of barely suppressed hysteria over "spy balloons" and TikTok indoctrination, the so-called Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party held its first hearing on Tuesday evening, which was a prime time House of Horrors viewing for its target audience, the US public.
Commencing with a long video presentation detailing "numerous" alleged "human rights abuses" committed by the CPC, the three-hour circus was comparable to an Avatar movie in length, committee chairman Mike Gallagher said, and "like a cinematic experience", the panel members "had gotten a sense of heroes and villains".
"We, America are the good guys," Gallagher declared, revealing in a nutshell what ails Washington — it is full of impressionable minds playacting the movies, whitewashing movies of the 1950s no less. In this simplistic view of the world, the US can do no wrong. Even if the script makes some of the actors squirm.
For instance, with the novel coronavirus blame game having been resurrected by the Republicans, former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger, one of the "witnesses" the committee invited to speak, was asked by Republican representative for Indiana Jim Banks "Do you think there was a chance that the Wuhan lab was involved in bioweapons research?"
Aware of the shaky ground such a question and answer was built on, Pottinger brushed aside the question saying "There is still a great deal of information that has yet to come out".
The hearing had no lack of such moments when even if the "actors" didn't feel embarrassed, the audience did.
Gallagher was tangentially right though in one respect since the anti-China carnival staged by the committee was aimed at fooling the US public into believing their representatives in Washington are the gun-toting "good guys" there to protect them.
Yet they are neither helping to build "guardrails" for Sino-US relations nor the foundation of rules for "strategic competition" between the two sides, practical measures that would help to prevent a head-on collision between the two countries. But of course that would entail foresight, courage and wisdom and who needs those when you can playact the hero until a real crisis finds you out.
It is the blame-it-all-on-China politicians in Washington that are pulling the rug from under the feet of the US by downgrading governance from the art of solving the problems of the people to such dog and pony shows of nonexistent-problem solving.
The committee's showpiece only served to show that the real challenges for the US come from within.