Emperor Fauci Has No Clothes
If Tony Fauci had half the competence and courage of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, COVID-19 would be under control.
As the modern-day plague sweeps across America bringing an unfathomable level of human and economic carnage, Americans are paying the price for what is likely one of the largest failures of government in our history.
When the dust settles, we will come to understand that the worst of this was avoidable but for the truancy of a handful of senior government officials. Anthony Fauci, who has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, is perhaps both the most revered and culpable member of this incompetent team who couldn’t shoot straight.
On January 7, China announced the spread of a new coronavirus, now called COVID-19. Also, in early January, they posted the virus’s genome for all to study. On January 20, the first cases were confirmed in other countries, including South Korea, Japan, and the US. The differences in reaction, however, were profound and have changed the course of the disease. China responded aggressively by closing off Wuhan and other hotspots, widespread testing, virus contact tracing, and creating medical facilities enabling the segregation of those infected by levels of illness. Perhaps most importantly, they segregated not only those with critical symptoms but everyone who tested positive, including people with mild or no symptoms at all. South Korea followed the China playbook, and both have controlled the virus spread at levels below what the US is now experiencing.
Meanwhile, officials in the US slept soundly at the wheel as the virus planted its lethal sleeper cells throughout the nasal passages of potentially millions of Americans.
When history renders its judgment of this affair, four main actors will bear responsibility: President Trump; Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar; Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID; and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both the CDC and the NIAID are part of HHS.
The CDC is a $7.2 billion agency whose mission is “to protect Americans from domestic and foreign threats to health, safety and security. Whether diseases start at home or abroad…CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.” Their role is “detecting and responding to new and emerging health threats.”
The NIAID is a $5.9 billion agency. Their responsibility is “leading research to understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic and allergic diseases.”
The president’s weaknesses are well understood, and Azar is a former pharmaceutical executive and the political appointee of a indiscriminating president. We’ve learned not to expect much from them.
Redfield and Fauci are another matter. Both have the title Dr. before their names, and both have long tenures in the field of public health. Redfield’s tenure at the CDC will soon end as Americans begin to realize how egregiously the organization he leads has failed us.
Fauci, however, is a far more capable politician than Redfield, and has invested his considerable communication skills in dodging accountability for this disaster. He deserves the same fate, and the public should not fall for his deceitful act.
It is bewildering how otherwise discriminating observers (think Maureen Dowd’s recent obsequious essay “) have been seduced by this imposter. Fauci has run the NIAID for 36 years. Simply put, he is responsible, along with the CDC, for anticipating and protecting Americans from infectious disease. Period. In this responsibility, he has failed and failed profoundly. His fecklessness will cost thousands of lives, jobs, and fortunes.
Thanks to his insatiable self-promotion, the NIAID website provides a record of his many public statements on the crisis. As late as January 27, when the virus had reached 24 countries, Fauci told Fox News that “The risk right now in the United States is really low…right now, people who want to fly anywhere in the United States shouldn’t worry at all.” While that might have seemed logical to a layperson, it is inexcusable for a seasoned professional.
On February 7, as the virus spread to 27 countries and infected 31,000 in China, he stayed with the script, maintaining that “the risk to Americans remains low,” that “test kits are available,” and that we “still don’t understand the degree of contagiousness of the virus.”
On February 19, as the death toll in China reached 2000, he stayed on the same insensible message.
On March 8, as Italy went into quarantine, he said he doubted the US would have to impose measures as “draconian” as total shutdowns in some regions in northern Italy.
While a layperson can be forgiven for underestimating this disease at that late stage, the head of the NIAID cannot. Fauci is masterful at describing this crisis as it develops but seemingly incapable of influencing its course.
And yet, mysteriously, Fauci is considered a hero in this drama. Like a celebrity on a book tour, he devotes more hours per day to making the talk show rounds than to doing his job. He has even managed to enhance his underserved reputation by carving out a niche as “truth teller” amongst the band of clowns in the daily press briefing. In so doing, he has brilliantly created a foil for his own abrogation of responsibility and for his continued failure to offer a specific prescription for mitigating the crisis. To this day, his banal warnings about washing hands and staying home if you don’t feel well are platitudinous. The hard reality is that this virus spreads faster than others because infected people can spread it prior to the onset of symptoms, as can those who show no symptoms at all. Just washing hands won’t do it.
Then there are the daily self-congratulatory press briefings that Fauci and the team orchestrate. Watching for our eyes to swell with tears of gratitude, they all share how hard they are working and what a great job they are doing. But wait, isn’t this what our elected and appointed officials are supposed to do? And wait again, aren’t they now in emergency mode because they were asleep at the wheel in the first place? Now they want our gratitude because they are working hard to clean up the mess they enabled? While we bear the price? Who do they think is funding the $2 trillion package? Every dollar of this represents a tax that all Americans will ultimately pay due to their reckless behavior.
Fauci will ultimately be undermined by the ample public record that he has so relentlessly established. His final words during the January 27 Fox interview were “We the health officials are taking this seriously because this potentially could turn into an outbreak that gets beyond China and out of control.” If only that had been true. If only he had been at his desk taking it half as seriously as were the Chinese and South Koreans and others, rather than showering us with his ceaseless and shameless bloviation.
His apologists will no doubt argue that surely, he warned Trump but was silenced, as are all voices that disagree with the president. First, there is not a shred of evidence in his many public appearances that this is true. But even if it were, that is no excuse for anyone in his position of trust. This is when courage and character matter. No one should get an honor for standing down when the boss breaks the public trust and an avoidable tsunami is about to make landfall. When Lt. Col. Vindman, a relatively unknown junior officer in the US Army, witnessed presidential behavior he believed to be unethical, he didn’t duck. He did the job he was sworn to do. If only Fauci had done his.