By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
There is nothing like stating the obvious to provoke mass hysteria, and last week's obvious statement was that China spied on the United States. And—you may want to sit down for this part—China has been spying on us for the past 50 years.
Those shockers came from flatulent Republican Newport Beach Representative Christopher Cox, who summoned hundreds of reporters to the huge ceremonial House of Representatives caucus room on May 25 to drop what The Orange County Register called a "bombshell." Add to Cox's knack for self-promotion and shameless advocacy of America's wealthiest 2 percent an until-now unrecognized appreciation for lowbrow theater. In his best impersonation yet of a Hard Copy host, he said, slowly, "Espionage continues to this very day."
A GOP staffer accurately predicted that "we're going to milk this for all it's worth." Eager for a hero—even if strenuously manufactured—the press and Capitol Hill insiders quickly dubbed Cox the nation's latest Man of the Hour. Cox visited ABC's This Week With Sam and Cokie, and NBC News With Tom Brokaw as well as getting face time on every CNN show imaginable: Larry King Live, Burden of Proof, Newsday, Crossfire, Moneyline News Hour With Lou Dobbs, World View, Inside Politics, TalkBack Live, CNN Today, CNN Special Event, Morning News and Early Edition. (Perhaps it would have been over the top for Cox to appear on Showbiz Today.) The work of the Newt Gingrich-created Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns With the People's Republic of China became known internationally as the "Cox Report," ostensibly to avoid the title "Cox and Dicks Report." It was Norm Dicks, a Democrat from Washington, who blandly played vice chairman on the Cox-led special national-security committee.
For some unfathomable reason, the media has always loved the diminutive, toothy Cox. The release of the 700-page, censored spy report offered another opportunity to display that affection. In the space of one brief article, for example, a theoretically objective Washington Post reporter used eight unattributed modifiers for the 46-year-old Cox: "telegenic," "precise," "unflappable," "workaholic," "collegial," "brainiest," "impeccable" credentials and "cares deeply." The Los Angeles Times-owned Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot had little to say about the spying but gushed expectantly about the congressman's chances for higher elective office. Another paper called Cox not a fruit, but a vegetable, pegging him as the "coolest cucumber" in Congress. It took Tom Fuentes, of all people, to bring us back to reality, to properly synopsize the dire consequences of Chinese espionage. "It's an exciting, vibrant moment," said the don of Orange County's Republican machine. "And I'm sure it will be very serious, very important for Chris' political career."
Well, that just about says it all: Everyone can relax now. Chris' political career is in good shape.
Beneath the avalanche of bullshit, however, a few pesky—even embarrassing—details about the spy scandal remain unexplored.
Few members of Congress have been more outspoken in their verbal hostility to communist China than Cox's longtime buddy Huntington Beach Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. In an emotional Feb. 2 speech on the House floor, Rohrabacher called Chinese officials "gangsters" and China "the world's worst human-rights abuser." He also said the country is "a massively repressive military regime that threatens the United States." The extent of his antipathy was even more pronounced when he told a story about Surf City's recent plans for a Chamber of Commerce luncheon honoring a visiting Chinese official. "I said, 'Mayor, you should treat the representative of the Chinese communist government the same way that you would treat a representative of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime in 1938.'"
If anything gets more of Rohrabacher's wrath than Chinese communism, it's Bill Clinton's China policy. "This hug-a-Nazi-and-make-him-a-liberal strategy of the Clinton administration is doomed to failure just as it was when Neville Chamberlain and those people in the 1930s confronted that threat to world peace and freedom," Rohrabacher said. "Clinton, of course, has gone beyond that. He is not just hugging the communist Chinese dictators, he is also encouraging American corporations to do business [with them]."
According to Rohrabacher, Clinton "has done nothing to prevent the flow of weapons technology." On this point, the former Register editorial writer is unquestionably right. The Cox Report more than adequately proves (as if it wasn't already clear) that Clinton and the Democrats have disgracefully yielded foreign policy (particularly when it comes to China) entirely to U.S.-based multinational corporations. Largely—if not entirely—ignored, though, has been the Republicans' direct complicity in the cozy Big Business-China relationship and the loss of military secrets. On this issue, Rohrabacher does not escape indictment. The Times and Register won't remind you, but the six-term congressman's behind-the-scenes actions contradict his fiery public anti-China, anti-communism rhetoric.
The evidence? On March 10, 1994, in the House subcommittee on Economic Policy, Trade and Environment, Rohrabacher recorded a voice vote in favor of loosening restrictions on U.S. companies eager to sell military-related satellite and related technologies overseas, including to communist China. Specifically, the vote shifted jurisdiction over highly sensitive technology transfers from the State Department to the free-and-easy, if not incompetent, Commerce Department. Two months later, on May 18, Rohrabacher proved his first vote wasn't an aberration. He cast the same vote in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.