In Brief: Rand Paul vs. COVID Response
It’s basically “Mr. Paul Goes to Washington,” as the Kentucky senator presses on against government overreach.
The various sparring matches between Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci, lock-downer extraordinaire, have always been valuable. Paul won’t let Fauci get away with his game. Fortunately, write John Tierney, Paul isn’t done, either.
For all its virtues, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington has never been considered a realistic film. Critics complain that Frank Capra’s movie is at once too corny and too cynical: one brave senator singlehandedly defending the public good against the thoroughly corrupt political and journalistic establishments. But we’ve been seeing a version of that plot for two years now, thanks to Senator Rand Paul’s lonely battle against Anthony Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control, and the mainstream press.
Like the politicians meekly following orders in the film, most of Washington has bowed to the CDC’s Covid edicts, but Paul has never tired of challenging the agency’s futile policies and dubious science. Like the movie’s media baron Jim Taylor, Fauci’s cheerleaders in the press and on social-media platforms have shamelessly pushed the party line—and worked hard to squelch opposing views, though they prefer to use “fact-checkers” rather than the street thugs whom Taylor hired to silence a rival newspaper. Journalists have smeared Paul, and censors have removed some of his scientifically accurate heresies from YouTube, but no one can stop him from regularly berating Fauci at the televised hearings of the Senate health committee. …
Paul sounded this theme throughout the pandemic, denouncing Fauci as a “petty tyrant” and “dictator in chief” who needlessly stoked fear to create a “nanny state” and “corral our freedom.” In the spring of 2020, when Fauci referred to the lockdowns as merely “inconvenient,” Paul lambasted him for ignoring the vast economic and social damage, and presciently warned, “Our reaction to the virus may turn out to be worse than the virus itself.”
At a hearing that summer, Paul summarized evidence from the U.S., Europe, and China that it was safe to open schools, and showed it to Fauci, with charts mounted on easels. “When are we going to tell people the truth—that it’s okay to take their kids back to school?” he asked. He couldn’t get a straight answer. While schools safely opened across Europe that fall, Fauci and the CDC kept finding reasons to keep American students out of the classroom (and placate teachers’ unions).
Over and over, at Senate hearings and in a stream of op-eds, Paul has offered more sensible policy prescriptions and better scientific guidance than Fauci, the CDC, or the media. While the Washington establishment relentlessly pushed mask mandates, Paul presented some of the abundant evidence that cloth and surgical masks were ineffective, telling Fauci, “You parade around in two masks for show.” While journalists and social-media platforms dismissed and censored suggestions that Covid had leaked out of a lab in Wuhan, Paul called out Fauci for working to suppress that legitimate discussion. He also showed that Fauci had been hiding his agency’s role in funding risky “gain-of-function” viral research at that lab. After Fauci denied that the National Institutes of Health had ever funded such research, Paul recited the damning evidence that it had done just that.
When Fauci plotted with Francis Collins, the NIH head, to plant “takedown” stories in the media depicting the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration as “fringe” scientists for daring to oppose lockdowns, journalists obediently went along with the campaign against these researchers from Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford. When Fauci declared that “attacks on me quite frankly are attacks on science,” journalists kept fawning—but Paul went after him.
“A planner who believes he is ‘the science,’ leads to an arrogance that justifies, in his mind, using government resources to smear and to destroy the reputations of other scientists who disagree with him,” Paul told Fauci at a hearing in January. “This is not only antithetical to the scientific method, it’s cheap politics, and it’s reprehensible, Dr. Fauci. Do you really think it’s appropriate to use your $420,000 salary to attack scientists that disagree with you?” Fauci dodged that question, as he routinely does during his confrontations with Paul. He’s a master of changing the subject, and the Democrats running the hearings make sure to limit Paul’s interrogations and give Fauci the last word.
Tierney goes on at length to recount some of Paul’s best moments in this long fight before concluding:
If Republicans regain a majority in the Senate this election, Paul stands to become chairman of the health committee, and he has promised to subpoena Fauci’s records and bring Fauci out of retirement to answer more questions. It won’t be easy holding the public health bureaucracy accountable for the unprecedented damage it has wrought, but thanks to Rand Paul, this movie isn’t over yet.
- John Tierney
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