Dr. Fauci And The Pedestal of Politics

There likely is no one with a more apolitical resume than Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has quietly served a nation as its foremost expert in infectious diseases since 1984, the Reagan administration. Watching him during the daily press briefings, Dr. SJ and I were highly impressed with his savvy in stating medical fact without making Trump look like a simplistic blustering fool.

He’s been around politicians and political appointees for a very long time, and presumably survived by threading the needle between ignorance and ego. You don’t last in government, no matter what your role, by pissing off those in power.

At the same time, Dr. Anthony Fauci labors under a burden that Trump does not: he’s a physician and does not want to contribute to death and destruction for the sake of pandering to pop beliefs. In other times, under other presidents more inclined to defer to facts, this might not be a big deal. But then, these aren’t other times and this president has little use for the pending reality of death and destruction except as a mechanism he can use for his own self-aggrandizement.

That puts Dr. Fauci in an awkward position. Does he support his president spewing nonsensical if incoherent claims, correct the claims or sit silently and allow as many deaths as COVID-19 claims?

This has infuriated supporters of the president, who perceive anything shy of fawning adoration as an attack. To be clear, the opposition to the president suffers from the same perception, not to mention the same abhorrence of scientific reality when it fails to conform to their delusion, so it’s not as if this isn’t an equal opportunity delusion.

But this time, with a pandemic about to wreak its havoc, Dr. Fauci is in the idiocracy’s crosshairs.

At a White House briefing on the coronavirus on March 20, President Trump called the State Department the “Deep State Department.” Behind him, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, dropped his head and rubbed his forehead.

Some thought Dr. Fauci was slighting the president, leading to a vitriolic online reaction. On Twitter and Facebook, a post that falsely claimed he was part of a secret cabal who opposed Mr. Trump was soon shared thousands of times, reaching roughly 1.5 million people.

Did Dr. Fauci facepalm at Trump’s “joke” about the “deep state department,” or was his forehead itchy? Beats me, and beats you too, not that those protective of Trump to a fault aren’t as certain about Dr. Fauci’s malevolent message as their counterparts are of there being 57 genders.

A week later, Dr. Fauci — the administration’s most outspoken advocate of emergency measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak — has become the target of an online conspiracy theory that he is mobilizing to undermine the president.

That fanciful claim has spread across social media, fanned by a right-wing chorus of Mr. Trump’s supporters, even as Dr. Fauci has won a public following for his willingness to contradict the president and correct falsehoods and overly rosy pronouncements about containing the virus.

Dr. Fauci did his best to remain within the confines of medical reality without embarrassing Trump. But as reflected by the Times’ characterization of him, “the administration’s most outspoken advocate,” he’s been jammed into an untenable position not by his own doing, but by the warring camps. By putting him on a pedestal as the antidote to empty bluster, they dare #Cult45 to knock him off.

Whether reasonable physicians can differ about what to do isn’t the question. Within the sound parameters of science and medicine, there are fair disputes just as there are in law. Perhaps Dr. Fauci is absolutely correct in his views, or perhaps he’s wrong about some things. That’s the sort of debate best left to people with sufficient medical education, knowledge and experience. Having none of these things, I demur. If you don’t have them, so should you, no matter how fervently you believe in whatever crap floats through your head.

But Dr. Fauci, at bare minimum, has been one of the few voices for whom politics played no part in his performance of his job, beyond his doing his best to skirt offense in the face of bluster. That might have been enough in the past, but not this time. The left saw the crack between his advice and Trump’s noise and exploited it to show what a self-aggrandizing fool stood behind the podium.

An analysis by The New York Times found over 70 accounts on Twitter that have promoted the hashtag #FauciFraud, with some tweeting as frequently as 795 times a day. The anti-Fauci sentiment is being reinforced by posts from Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, a conservative group; Bill Mitchell, host of the far-right online talk show “YourVoice America”; and other outspoken Trump supporters such as Shiva Ayyadurai, who has falsely claimed to be the inventor of email.

The left put the target on Dr. Fauci’s back. The right took its best shot.

“When you’re dealing with the White House, sometimes you have to say things one, two, three, four times, and then it happens,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview with Science magazine this past week. “So, I’m going to keep pushing.”

Right or wrong, Dr. Fauci’s only purpose is to help a nation survive, not be the darling of the left or the enemy of the right. He never sought to be anyone’s angel or devil, but just a doc doing his job. Regardless of which flavor Kool-Aid you prefer, leave Dr. Fauci alone. Your survival might just depend on it, as you can bet that Trump won’t be there to intubate you, and you surely wouldn’t want him to do so if he were.

14 thoughts on “Dr. Fauci And The Pedestal of Politics

  1. David

    You said: “There likely is no one with a more apolitical resume than Dr. Anthony Fauci.”

    Are you aware of the emails from Fauci to Cheryl Mills and Lois Quan about Hillary Clinton?

    Wow! Very rarely does a speech bring me to tears, but this one did it. Talk about telling it like it is. This was a bases-
    loaded home run. Please tell the Secretary that I love her more than ever you guys too, of course.

    Best regards,

    Anthony S. Fauci, MD
    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
    Building 31, Room 7A-03
    31 Center Drive, MSC 2520”

    [Ed. Note: Link deleted per rules.]

    Now, while technically this does not appear on Fauci’s resume, it does not support your description of him as “apolitical.”

    1. SHG Post author

      Yes, I’m aware of it, and it has nothing to do with the performance of his duties nor his performance for both Republican and Democratic admins before. Anyone who thinks this shows he’s political in his duties is a blithering fucking idiot.

      1. david

        I’ve been practicing medicine since the AIDS epidemic in the late 1970s, and he was hardly apolitical then. Fauci was one of the loudest voices proclaiming that AIDS was going to “break out” into the heterosexual population that did not engage in anal sex or use needles for licit (eg hemophiliacs) or illicit (eg IV drug abusers) purposes. Didn’t happen then, hasn’t happened in the past 30 years. There have been a few cases of male –> female heterosexual transmission, due to vaginal tearing or anal sex, but since there is no female –> male transmission, this is an epidemiologic dead end. Here he showed himself to be willing to shade his medical opinion to reflect political considerations.

        For this reason, I had concerns that he was not above slanting his medical pronouncements to accommodate his political sympathies, and with his fawning letters about Hillary Clinton, it was clear where his political sympathies lay.

        On account of this, I was wary of what Fauci would say about the Wuhan flu. However, his addresses to the media alongside the President, as well as his recent editorials in the New England Journal of Medicine, have all seemed medically reasonable and untainted by political bias. While I had concerns, based upon his politically motivated behavior during the AIDS epidemic, I give him credit for being a straight shooter this time around.

        I read your blog regularly (yes, even blithering fucking idiots enjoy your blog — go figure), and as a defense attorney, you have no doubt encountered a prosecutor who has played fast and loose with discovery in the past. No doubt you’d harbor some doubts about his honesty (without necessarily being a blithering fucking idiot) if he were to oppose you at some point in the future, but if he didn’t play hide the ball and turned over all relevant material this time around, you would also be willing to give him credit for playing it straight this time.

        Best regards — ds

        1. SHG Post author

          I remember the AIDS epidemic well (it was early 80s, not late 70s), and I also remember then it jumped beyond the gay community and IV drug users as bisexuals transmitted it and suddenly condoms became the overnight norm to prevent its spread among heterosexuals.

          But even so, your disagreement with his very legitimate concern and advice 40 years ago, together with his email appreciating one speech by Clinton, is what’s making your head explode about Fauci’s politicization? I also note you called coronavirus “Wuhan virus.” Was it worth it?

          1. david

            The first report of AIDS was in 1981. We were seeing cases in the late 1970s.

            My head is still intact, thank you. My concern was that, as back then, he would trim his sails based on political considerations. I have been pleased that he hasn’t done that this time around.

            I call it Wuhan virus because that’s the location where it originated. That’s the same reason I talk about Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, German measles, and West Nile virus – they were identified there, or are associated with the area.

            I could tell you if it was worth it if I knew what “it” was.

            Cheers –ds

  2. Pedantic Grammar Police

    Walking the line between 2 tribes is a dangerous game. Nobody cares about the truth anymore. He will probably end up hated by both sides.

    1. SHG Post author

      At some point, the left will demand something of Dr. Fauci that he can’t or won’t do (remember the expectation the CJ Roberts would “require” the Senate to call witnesses?) and he will be immediately vilified as a traitor to the cause.

    2. Hunting Guy

      Ambrose Bierce.

      “We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.”

  3. B. McLeod

    Like us, there is some sort of oath the doctors have to swear. Something about “doing no harm” in their case (thank God we’re not hung with that).

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