Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of America’s Finest Public Servants

His ability to navigate the Trump administration also makes him one of the most effective

Andy Slavitt
Medium Coronavirus Blog
4 min readMay 15, 2020

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Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The attacks on Anthony Fauci are a misplaced hit job and it’s actually dangerous. In some circles, the accusation that Dr. Fauci (who has served under six US Presidents — four of them Republicans) is a partisan, is what passes for evidence that he is out to bring Trump down.

Anthony Fauci’s only deep interest in politics is avoiding it.

In 1985, then Vice President George HW Bush didn’t think he was partisan. Fauci’s passion was researching cures to HIV/AIDS. George W Bush didn’t think so either, awarding Fauci the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

What Fauci is, is one of the world’s leading experts in infectious diseases and the body’s immune system. Before Covid-19, he was at the forefront of our response to HIV, SARS, the 2009 swine flu pandemic, MERS and Ebola. Some would say a handy guy to have around.

What is Fauci being accused of?

  1. Being wrong and not being all-knowing
  2. Purposely shutting down the economy
  3. Being political — which would be a new development

If you want to go after scientists for being wrong during the inquiry process, you’ve lost before you’ve started. That is the inquiry process.

If you count how many times Fauci has said, “we don’t know”, “we think”, “our best guess”, etc., it would be hard. When he says he knows something. He knows it.

If you think Fauci is purposely shutting down the economy, you’re picking on the wrong guy. Fauci says frequently that he’s not an economic expert and doesn’t give the president economic advice.

Truthfully he won’t speak ill of Trump even if he doesn’t care for him. He doesn’t feel that’s his job. He gives his best advice based on what he knows. He’s 79 and thinks a lot about getting his job done.

There’s a really amazing rendition of what a professional like Fauci navigates in a political environment as explain by David Frum here. (I learned a ton from this conversation overall).

Let’s look at what he’s actually responsible for; a vaccine. As soon as the RNA sequencing was available, Dr. Fauci got the vaccine trials off in record time. As behind as we were with everything else, vaccine development is the one place we were ahead. That was Fauci.

So why try to take down Fauci? Here are some possibilities:

  1. With Trump and his followers, you’re either with him or you’re against him. Right now Trump’s top goal is the economy and that makes scientific advice unwelcome.
  2. He won’t lie for Trump. If Trump tries to pass himself off as a scientist and Fauci is asked his opinion, he won’t support an unscientific claim. But he carefully demurs.
  3. Fauci interrupts the narrative of what some people want to hear.
  4. What he says doesn’t meet with our physical reality at every moment. He talks about risks and possibilities of a contagious virus. When we modify our behaviors, the outcomes do change.
  5. A belief that science and experts are being used by elitists to control us. Trump doesn’t believe he needs to advice of experts.
  6. And then there are the more fringe attacks — Russia Today sewing dissent, or bots, or anti-vaxxers.

Oh funny digression. Russia Today sent me an email yesterday asking to do a profile on me. According to their email, seems like a lot of well-known people have said yes to this.

So will Dr. Fauci get fired? My guess is no. What will happen instead is what is happening now. Trump will sic his followers on him and attempt to discredit his lifetime reputation. And of course he will get pushed away from conversations that matter. Hence, the task force break up.

Whether they find a way to push him out or just belittle him, one thing is clear: whatever happens he will be gracious. He wouldn’t undermine the country’s chances at beating Covid-19 by putting himself in the middle. Anyone who wanted to quit over it, he wouldn’t let them.

There was a point a month or two ago when the White House decided to scapegoat one of Fauci’s colleagues to the press as being responsible for the US’s reaction. Behind the scenes, Fauci refused to go along. But he managed to do it without picking a fight with Trump. “There’s no upside in picking a fight with the President,” he said.

Yes, losing one of the most experienced and expert minds in vaccine development and immune systems is a danger and a tragedy. But the continued crushing of dissenting voices will do us no favors in the hunt for scientific answers. It will do us no favors in navigating anything. We are dumbed down to one voice and whoever can work around it.

It’s not the ideal time for a country to turn its back on integrity. On science. On truth. For decision makers to be surrounded by people who only nod their heads. A disturbing number of people are watching this happen, knowing it’s wrong without saying a word. A disturbing number are cheering this on with the zeal of a public stoning.

Personally I sleep better at night with Tony Fauci on the job. He’s a man who has been offered promotions and undoubtedly the most high paying jobs in the private sector. He’s turned them all down to serve. His only reward is to continue serving us. May he be able to.

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