The battle between science and the president’s gut feeling.
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s absence at the president’s coronavirus briefing Monday raised my ebbing spirit tremendously.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the president’s coronavirus task force, Dr. Fauci had emerged as a trusted voice in the fight against the virus.
But his presence at the president’s daily briefings was worrisome.
I had seen how difficult it had been for “good people” to escape the unprincipled behavior that seemingly seeped into everyone who came within the president’s orbit.
Indeed, it was painful to watch Dr. Fauci, a man of honor and integrity, day after day being used as a legitimacy prop to the president’s cynical and dangerous disregard of the medical profession’s protocols for fighting the virus.
It was alarming enough that the president’s performances at his daily briefings made us more paranoid each day.
Who among you didn’t think about the doomsday movie “I am Legend,” when you heard the president promoting the use of a malaria drug as a cure for the coronavirus?
In “I am Legend,” you might recall, a drug used to cure measles was re-engineered to create a cure for cancer, but it ended up wiping out most of mankind (turned people into non humans).
And if that wasn’t scary enough, Monday the president told us just how far he would go to protect his precious stock market.
Worried that the precipitous plunge in the market would adversely impact his reelection chances, the president essentially told the nation it was time to place the market over the lives of people.
“We can’t let the cure be worse than the problem,” he said, suggesting it was high time to reopen the country for business.
Meanwhile in the real world, 582 Americans have died from the virus as of Tuesday, and reopening the country for business prematurely would potentially raise the death rate significantly, especially since we haven’t done the necessary testing to determine the extent of the problem.
We know Dr. Fauci and most medical professionals don’t support a premature ending of social distancing protocols, not when there are over 43,000 infectious cases in the U.S. and climbing, not when country is short of hospital beds.
California alone is short 17,000 hospital beds.
Yet, if the good doctor was at Monday’s briefing, how would he have responded to the president’s broadside against social distancing protocols?
Assuredly, he would have expressed a cautionary note about a back to business as usual inclination.
But he wouldn’t have been too critical. Presidential deference would have restrained his response.
Yet, continual restraint in calling out reckless and immoral behavior eventually makes one complicit in those acts.
It would have been a betrayal of mammoth proportion for a man of Dr. Fauci’s stature in the medical community to have participated Monday in the president’s back to business as usual briefing.
And that’s why I was buoyed by his absence.