I have developed a strange affinity for Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. Donald Trump made Fauci — the 36-year director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has advised every president over that span — the hood ornament on this administration’s careening coronavirus Cadillac. Fauci is the face of SCIENCE in this fight, and from the sound of things, SCIENCE is about to get fired.
According to a number of sources, Trump has grown irritated at Fauci for the ever-increasing frequency of Fauci’s public corrections of Trump. Trump has been using the daily coronavirus briefings as a stand-in for his raucous, fiction-raddled rallies to spray dangerous, history-obscuring gibberish into the wind. He does not like it when Fauci, his own hand-picked face of SCIENCE, clowns him from the same podium. Because of this, Fauci may soon be gone.
The reasons for Fauci’s sudden cascade into disfavor are enough to stagger the imagination. I wrote on Monday about the capitalists jumping on television to demand the huddled masses get back to work. As it turns out, one of the larger cats in that particular tree — former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein — started yelling about this very thing before I’d written a sentence.
That’s not the worst part, however. This is the worst part, as reported by Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair:
Trump’s view that he can ignore Fauci’s opinion may be influenced by advice he’s getting from Jared Kushner, whose outside-the-box efforts have often rankled those in charge of managing the crisis. According to two sources, Kushner has told Trump about experimental treatments he’s heard about from executives in Silicon Valley.
“Jared is bringing conspiracy theories to Trump about potential treatments,” a Republican briefed on the conversations told me. Another former West Wing official told me: “Trump is like an 11-year-old boy waiting for the fairy godmother to bring him a magic pill.”
According to sources, Trump has been jealous that Cuomo’s press briefings have gotten such positive reviews. “He’s said Cuomo looks good,” a Republican briefed on internal conversations said. Trump’s solution has been to put on his own show. “Trump wants to play press secretary,” a former West Wing official said.
For the record, Trump’s devoted evocations of the gobbledygook Kushner apparently brings him may have already gotten one person killed. Trump has been peddling the anti-malarial drug chloroquine as a cure-all for COVID-19, even as Fauci and other experts try to wave him off because of the lethal side effects of this untested-for-coronavirus medication. Now, a man who listened to Trump on chloroquine is dead, and his wife is in critical condition.
We have traveled an astonishingly gruesome coronavirus timeline with this damn-fool president — denial followed by denial followed by blame followed by “war,” now followed, apparently, by ignoring and firing SCIENCE because it’s bad for business. All of Trump’s words and deeds, every single one, have been in service to himself. You, and me, and everyone you love or have ever met, are an easily shed decimal point in the body count this president would pile up in order to look good on TV.
The coronavirus cameras have him shooting up flares left and right about lifting the social strictures enacted by COVID-struck cities like New York, Seattle, LA and Chicago, and indeed by much of the nation besides. These shelter-in-place orders are critical. Trump’s own scientists, including the redoubtable Fauci, say they are vital to avoid a brutal reaving among our oldest and most vulnerable, and simultaneously, to avoid shattering our fragile, facile, for-profit hospital system.
According to Trump, the social distancing strictures will be lifted “very soon,” because “I’m not looking at months, I can tell you that right now.”
We have spent the last three years listening to this bomb-throwing dunderhead slash and smash his way through life to avoid even a tickle of responsibility or blame. Before, he grumbled up a parade of enemies — Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Robert Mueller, Jeff “Secession” Sessions and the like — to use as a canvas for his broad-brush disassociation from “The buck stops here.”
COVID-19, however, gives zero fucks. The virus does not obey Trump’s laws of bent political gravity. This clod of failure honestly believes that if he fires Fauci and tells everyone to ignore the warnings his own government has been screaming about for weeks, it will all settle down into a pebble-free path to reelection.
That is his motive. That is his only motive. Your life is forfeit in the face of Trump’s need to win in November. Period, end of file.
I am pleading with you, one human being to another: If Trump says everything is fine because of his superior scientific knowledge (he has a relative who went to MIT!), if he says the coronavirus is gone and we can all assume a normal life again, if he dares to say that in the face of Fauci and science, ignore him.
If that happens, stay home, if it’s possible for you to stay home. Do as you were originally told — before the money got nervous about the absence of profit and poured its greedy, impatient poison into Trump’s ear — if you can afford to do so. Don’t listen to him. Listen to SCIENCE, even if/when it gets fired.
The president of the United States is lying to you.
He wants you to go back to work because his wealthy friends are feeling the pinch. You, who are the economy, are not participating in the flywheel of the wealth machine because SCIENCE told you not to. You are doing what you are supposed to do, what Dr. Fauci told you to do. Please continue to keep yourself safe.
And then we see what happens next, especially if Trump decides to fire SCIENCE and replace it with profit.