Let’s begin today with Joe Biden, who is far too often trumped by the tumultuous roar of the MAGA train wreck. Biden, who currently leads Trump by nine points nationally and by as many as five points in Texas (Texas!), had a few choice things to say about the Trump regime’s treacherous efforts to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The presumptive Democratic nominee tweeted: “Donald Trump needs to spend less time playing golf and more time listening to experts like Dr. Fauci.” And the Biden campaign said: “The president’s disgusting attempt to pass the buck by blaming the top infectious disease expert in the country – whose advice he repeatedly ignored and Joe Biden consistently implored him to take – is yet another horrible and revealing failure of leadership as the tragic death toll continues to needlessly grow.”
Trump’s cultists will surely view those complaints as “partisan,” but let us recall how the senior George Bush responded, during a presidential debate in 1988, when he was asked to name some of his heroes: “I think of Dr. Fauci…He’s a very fine researcher – top doctor at the National Institute of Health – working hard doing something about research on this disease of AIDS.” And indeed he was, while serving the first of six presidents – of both parties.
The problem now is Fauci serves an anti-science ignoramus who can’t abide anyone who outshines him in the public eye, and therefore it was inevitable that he would be marginalized and kept off TV. A national poll recently reported that 67 percent of Americans trust Fauci to deliver “accurate information” about the pandemic, while only 26 percent trust Trump. Nobody who tells the truth – not Alexander Vindman, or James Mattis, or Marie Yovanovich – can breathe free in Trump’s fetid swamp.
Fauci recently told the Financial Times, “I have a reputation, as you probably figured out, of speaking the truth at all times and not sugar-coating things.” No wonder Trump is trying to put him out to pasture.
It does seem foolish, as a re-election strategy, to attack the nation’s top infectious expert in the midst of a roaring pandemic. But this hapless husk of a regime, plagued by a mounting death toll and horrified at the prospect of defeat, has gone off the deep end. In the words of conservative commentator Michael Gerson, who served in the second Bush White House, the baseless assault on Fauci “indicates an administration so far gone in rage, bitterness and paranoia that it can no longer be trusted to preserve American lives.”
Lest we forget, Fauci started to draw heat way back in March, when he was already warning about the dangers of “community spread.” Trump, at the time, was already in sugar-coat mode, dreaming of packed churches on Easter Sunday, and his fans on the rabid right were already circulating the hashtag #faucifraud.
So what we’re seeing now is merely an acceleration of the MAGA rage against reality. Fauci, assessing the pandemic, is trying to warn us that “we haven’t even begun to see the end of it yet,” even as Trump lied last Friday that “we are winning the war.” But what about the titanic spikes in Texas and Arizona, spikes triggered by the insane decision (goaded by Trump) to reopen too early? No problem at all, according to Trump: “They’re going to have it under control very quickly.”
But there’s one cure for the virus of ignorance:
Just ignore Trump and heed Fauci. A landslide share of Americans are doing that already.
Technically, Trump can’t even fire Fauci, at least not without waging a protracted bureaucratic battle that will backfire against the guy whose credibility outside the cult is already nil. Trump can’t thwart Fauci’s impulse to speak truth to power – or stop Americans from listening.
Trump’s sole motive is selfish – to stay in office and out of jail. Fauci’s sole motive is selfless – to keep Americans alive and healthy. Game over.
Of all the stupid things Trump has said and done, fingering Fauci as a fall guy is surely in the top tier.
Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.