Fauci’s ‘Humble’ Attempt to Rewrite History
The now-retired bureaucrat sat down with The New York Times to lament how tragically misunderstood he really is.
No look back on the COVID pandemic is complete without taking note of Mark Alexander’s seminal coronavirus coverage — the most extensive one-stop resource you’ll find anywhere on the web. Keep that in mind as Dr. Science™ himself sets about on his post-retirement effort to rewrite history regarding his central role in the destruction.
Anthony Fauci left his perch atop the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as the highest-paid federal bureaucrat at the end of 2022, taking his golden parachute and bidding adieu “after more than 50 years of government service.” That “service” included being the point man for wrecking the American economy, undermining the successful presidency of Donald Trump (and thus saddling us with Joe Biden), and ultimately destroying trust in government and medical professionals.
Fauci wasn’t the only one responsible, of course, and we’d even concede that much of his do-goodism genuinely stems from being a physician who doesn’t “want to see people die.”
Yet as C.S. Lewis once said, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”
Fauci sat down with The New York Times for an extensive interview published Monday. Interviewer David Wallace-Wells says: “At times, he was defensive, even combative, particularly when it came to episodes in which he felt that his own positions had been misconstrued and on the matter of gain-of-function research and the origins of the pandemic. But on the whole, he was reflective, even humble, especially about the way that Covid-19 exposed the limits of public health and, in his telling, kept surprising him and his fellow scientists.”
Then we read the interview, and what Wallace-Wells calls “humility” on Fauci’s part is more of a lament that everyone didn’t quit having their own opinions the moment the good doctor pronounced something.
He also wishes he’d come down even harder right from the beginning rather than admitting nuance or inconvenient truths, like the fact that masks aren’t necessary or that most people were not in danger of dying from COVID unless they were elderly or had something from a short list of comorbidities. Fauci regrets what “we didn’t know” in January 2020 and that the virus “fooled us in the beginning and confused us about the need for masks and the need for ventilation and the need for inhibition of social interaction.”
Never forget that “inhibition of social interaction” left thousands of Americans to die alone while their loved ones were forcibly and inhumanely kept away.
Could we have acted sooner? In February instead of March 2020, “would we have been able to shut down the economy?” Fauci wondered. “When you had a handful of cases and one death,” he said, “I don’t know if we would’ve gotten the country to shut down.”
Shutting down was wrong whether in March or February or any other month. If the only lesson Fauci learned is that he should have moved the recommended shutdown date, then he’s learned nothing. It’s notable too that he expressed that reflection after denying he had anything to do with the lockdown decisions that were made: “When people say, ‘Fauci shut down the economy’ — it wasn’t Fauci. The CDC was the organization that made those recommendations.”
It wasn’t me, but I would’ve done it sooner. Got it.
But it was him. As he boasted in October 2020, “I recommended to the president that we shut the country down.” People followed his recommendations.
Moreover, he glosses over the fact that he spent every day for months going on cable news to scold even young, healthy Americans about the need to stay locked up at home and to opine about the safety of keeping schools closed.
The same was largely true for vaccines. Fauci was astounded that not every American lined up for the jab just because he said it was necessary, while also admitting that the vaccines didn’t turn out to be very long-lasting or effective against variants, and that herd immunity was never actually in the cards for this fast-mutating virus. The only thing he said about mandates was to complain, “Almost paradoxically, you had people who were on the fence about getting vaccinated thinking, why are they forcing me to do this?”
The interview got pretty interesting when the subject of COVID’s origin came up. “My understanding of your position and perspective,” Wallace-Wells asserted, “is that you feel there’s strong and accumulating evidence pointing to a zoonotic origin of the pandemic, as opposed to a lab leak. But you don’t feel as if the case is closed.” He added that he agrees that “a natural occurrence is more likely.”
Fauci claimed to “have an open mind,” but insisted, “As a scientist, I could not ignore the accumulation of evidence favoring one versus the other.” Humorously, by that he means the accumulation of evidence favoring a natural origin, when in fact the mounting evidence shows just the opposite — that it came from a Wuhan lab.
Fauci can’t admit that because of his own involvement with the lab. Indeed, the conversation got a little testy when Wallace-Wells pushed about National Institutes of Health funding for gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Fauci dismissed that as people not understanding that without gain-of-function research, you wouldn’t have vaccines, but he also argued that nothing NIH funded had anything to do with COVID. “Those viruses could not possibly ever turn into SARS-CoV-2,” Fauci insisted, “even if they tried to turn them into SARS-CoV-2, because they were evolutionarily so far from SARS-CoV-2 that anybody who knows anything about virology would say there’s nothing you could do to those viruses that would turn them into SARS-CoV-2.”
As for any lingering second thoughts about his role in that funding or research, Fauci said, “I sleep fine” because “this work was done in order to be able to help prepare us for the next outbreak.”
All in all, Fauci showed remarkably little humility, though given his track record that’s not the least bit surprising. Every “mistake” he conceded had to do with either what he and other authorities didn’t yet know at the time or the inexplicable political division in our country, especially coming from what he called “the ultra-right MAGA community.” He never owned up to lying about anything, though, for starters, it’s certainly arguable that he deceived Congress regarding his own involvement in the research funding, and that he at best intentionally moved the goalposts on masks and herd immunity.
There’s so much more in the Times interview that deserves attention. It’s hard to overstate just how devastating the response to the pandemic really was, and an awful lot of those decisions go back to Fauci’s recommendations.
But maybe all you need to know is that in one of the paper’s photos of Fauci, he had two paintings of himself on his own desk.
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