As, indeed, it should have.
President Trump has pretty much confined his participation in the White House Trash Fauci campaign to his snarky, “he’s a nice guy, but he’s made a lot of mistakes.” But, let’s get serious. We know President Trump’s surrogates would have never ventured into such a foolhardy and ill-advised trash campaign without the nod, if not the instruction, of the President. Then, on second thought, a foolhardy and ill-advised surrogate just might. There seems to be no shortage of them in this White House.
White House Trade Advisor, Peter Navarro, joined the fray on cue with his crass and carefully timed op-ed in USA Today attacking Dr. Fauci. Of course, everyone stopped paying attention to Peter Navarro years ago, with the notable exception of President Trump and a relative handful of tariff enthusiasts. Everyone in the White House rushed to distance themselves from Navarro. Navarro’s five-time losing campaigns for public office in San Diego were also often pitiful slash-and-burn campaigns that turned most everyone off, except those who are drawn to slash and burn campaigns.
The White House release of a so-called fact sheet of Dr. Fauci’s mistakes was amateur-day run amok. The Washington Press core largely assumes that White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany was responsible for releasing the anti-Fauci memo. It’s very doubtful, however, that McEnany had the temerity to issue such an anonymous hit job, except at the direction of someone for whom such temerity is a natural reflex.
The difference between Dr. Anthony Fauci and President Trump is that Dr. Fauci, conversant with the facts at a given point in time, responds to questions accordingly and carefully. He invariably makes the point that the facts as they are known early during a novel virus pandemic are subject to change, and he has, consistently, been quick to warn that his perspective would then change accordingly. Trump surrogates in the media edit out that important qualification with relative abandon.
For example, White House officials love to point to a statement by Dr. Fauci in a Feb. 29 interview that, “at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis.” But they omit a warning he delivered at the end of that interview. “Right now, the risk is still low, but this could change,” he said in the often quoted and maliciously edited interview with NBC News. He went on to say in that same interview, “when you start to see community spread, this could change and force you to become much more attentive to doing things that would protect you from spread.” In the same interview, Dr. Fauci also warned that the Coronavirus could become “a major outbreak.”
There is incredible irony in President Trump, of all people, criticizing Dr. Fauci for “having made a lot of mistakes” regarding Coronavirus. Dr. Fauci’s pronouncements have been pretty consistent with what the data was revealing, and he was, understandably, hesitant to call for a shutdown of the economy and an order for the public to wear face masks. He quickly refined his commentary, however, consistent with evolving information.
True, he was cautious, perhaps even overly cautious, about recommending a shut down early in the pandemic when the data was still inconclusive. Once it became clear, however, that mitigation rather than containment was the desperately needed strategy, he has been unequivocal as has the overwhelming preponderance of advice within the public health community.
Dr. Fauci, over 100 days ago, (about a month after the very first coronavirus death) was publicly urging the wearing of face masks when in public. Social media trolls and the Trumpeteers on cable news, and, in fact, the President himself still feed their respective publics the old guidance and the old clips of Dr. Fauci when the evidence didn’t yet support the wide-spread wearing of face masks. We also now know that there was a serious concern during the early days of the pandemic that an urgent demand for face masks could quickly sap supplies needed by health care workers.
The orchestrated criticism of Dr. Fauci and “his mistakes” was shameful. Small wonder that so many misguided Americans are fighting the requirement to wear masks in public. The raucous, breathtaking, public hearings during which citizens scream and yell about their rights and freedom to ignore local and state requirements to wear masks in public (the rest of society be damned) is more a display of arrogance and ignorance than a defense of freedom and liberty. Everyone is free to expose themselves to disease, but no one is free to expose others to a deadly and debilitating disease. That isn’t freedom. That’s simply arrogance, if not, stupidity.
Our righteous fellow citizens who wrap themselves in the Constitution to demand that their liberty not be infringed ignore, or are ignorant of, the very sentence in the preamble to the Constitution that ties promoting the general welfare of the country to establishing the blessings of liberty. You really can’t have one without the other. The founders understood that. Too many of our fellow citizens do not.
We’ve seen this nonsense before. It’s all reminiscent of the seat belt controversy a half-century ago. A vast segment of society went ballistic, first over the federal requirement that auto manufacturers include seat belts in all new cars, and then over state laws requiring their use. Today most people wouldn’t consider driving without their seat belt engaged. Forty-nine of our fifty states require the use of seat belts. Ninety percent of the population routinely engages their seatbelts in the forty-nine states that require them to be used, as do seventy percent of the drivers in the one state (New Hampshire) that doesn’t.
There were about 52,000 highway deaths when, in 1968, federal law first required all new cars to be equipped with seat belts. Since then, auto-crash deaths have decreased by about 30% even though the number of drivers in the country has more than doubled. Meanwhile, in the last 100 days, approximately 140,000 Americans have died from Coronavirus, and President Trump, playing to his base, says he doesn’t agree with all the fuss about requiring people to wear face masks in public. “People should have a certain freedom,” he said on Fox News.
One would think robust support of face masks would by now, be routine by our leadership. But the President and the President’s men are aware that his base is strongly represented among those hyperventilating at these public meetings. Re-election is all that matters to President Trump; public health be damned. He simply creates his own reality when discussing the pandemic. The science is never as important as the politics—absolutely never.
History will not be kind to President Trump, and his surrogates and those in public office who are unwilling to deviate from the President’s malfeasance and c’est la vie attitude during this public health crisis.