Recently, Anthony Fauci was the subject of a scathing op-ed by something called a Peter Navarro (??). Navarri is known, tragically, to have an extremely bad brain and the White House was forced to claim they had nothing to do with the piece.
But while much scorn has been directed Navarro’s way, what should we make of Fauci himself? He’s been deified on the left, vilified on the right, and sidelined by the White House. But how should we grade his performance during this pandemic?
Criteria 1: death and destruction
Hooooo boy. Ok, so theoretically, as the nation’s top virologist it’s Fauci’s main job to prevent hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths by virus. On that front, the scale of the failure is, um, unignorable. But it’s not going too far out on a limb to say that his guidance hasn’t always been followed, and his advice has generally been to do things like socially distance and wear a mask (we’ll get back to this) that could have prevented the current nightmare we’re sleepwalking through. And considering that the head of the White House Coronavirus task force is the same guy responsible for bringing the HIV/AIDS epidemic back to Indiana, it’s probably fair to say this could have been much worse.
Criteria 2: scientific adherence
Here’s where Fauci has really shined. In the face of a White House courageously pledging not to let “the science get in the way” of killing teachers, Fauci has been steadfast in forcing the science into the way. It hasn’t always worked out, but Fauci has consistently refused to talk politics or really anything other than the science of the pandemic—and it seems pretty likely that if the president had suggested injecting bleach in his presence, rather than Dr. Birx’s, he would have spoken up,
Criteria 3: protective measures
On the one hand, the CDC committed what epidemiologists refer to as a “catastrophic fuck up” (CFU, in industry-speak) when in March it advised the nation not to wear masks for a virus that turned out to likely be airborne. Fauci doesn’t work at the CDC, but as the nation’s most trusted voice on communicable diseases, he surely played a role in that CFU. On the other hand, Fauci has been adamant about keeping social distance and closing down businesses when needed, even in the face of a president determined to eradicate the state of Florida.
Criteria 4: looking sick as fuck
Anthony Fauci is like four feet tall, a billion years old, and would absolutely be able to pipe every intern in the greater Silver Springs area if there weren’t a fucking pandemic.
Grade: A+, somehow
Criteria 5: keeping his job
As bad as things are, they would surely be worse if Trump’s next choice for the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease—the doctor who prescribed Michael Jackson all that propofol, probably—were in charge. Fauci’s ability to publicly contradict the president and not get fired has been perhaps his greatest strength, and perhaps the only thing keeping us from a situation as dire as that in [add country doing worse at this than the US, make one up if none exists].
So how do we grade him on the whole? The pandemic has been a disaster for everyone except grave-diggers, so he’s certainly not getting perfect marks. But an A- feels pretty fair. Maybe that’s just because it’s so jarring to see a government official trying to keep people alive, but if he’s benefiting from low expectations, so be it. Now, go have some freaky socially distant phone sex with a GW grad student, Tony.