On Monday, in response to a pair of media appearances by Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, two prominent members of the White House coronavirus task force who criticized the former president, Donald Trump lit the public health experts up with some blistering criticism.
What Trump had to say was, frankly, delicious. Here’s the whole statement in case you missed it:
Based on their interviews, I felt it was time to speak up about Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, two self-promoters trying to reinvent history to cover for their bad instincts and faulty recommendations, which I fortunately almost always overturned. They had bad policy decisions that would have left our country open to China and others, closed to reopening our economy, and years away from an approved vaccine—putting millions of lives at risk.
We developed American vaccines by an American President in record time, nine months, which is saving the entire world. We bought billions of dollars of these vaccines on a calculated bet that they would work, perhaps the most important bet in the history of the world. Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx moved far too slowly, and if it were up to them we’d currently be locked in our basements as our country suffered through a financial depression. Families, and children in particular, would be suffering the mental strains of this disaster like never before.
In a fake interview last night on CNN, Dr. Fauci, who said he was an athlete in college but couldn’t throw a baseball even close to home plate, it was a “roller,” tried to take credit for the vaccine, when in fact he said it would take three to five years, and probably longer, to have it approved. Dr. Fauci was incapable of pressing the FDA to move it through faster. I was the one to get it done, and even the fake news media knows and reports this.
Dr. Fauci is also the king of “flip-flops” and moving the goalposts to make himself look as good as possible. He fought me so hard because he wanted to keep our country open to countries like China. I closed it against his strong recommendation, which saved many lives. Dr. Fauci also said we didn’t need to wear masks, then a few months later he said we needed to wear masks, and now, two or three of them. Fauci spent U.S. money on the Wuhan lab in China—and we now know how that worked out.
Dr. Birx is a proven liar with very little credibility left. Many of her recommendations were viewed as “pseudo-science,” and Dr. Fauci would always talk negatively about her and, in fact, would ask not to be in the same room with her. The States who followed her lead, like California, had worse outcomes on Covid, and ruined the lives of countless children because they couldn’t go to school, ruined many businesses, and an untold number of Americans who were killed by the lockdowns themselves. Dr. Birx was a terrible medical advisor, which is why I seldom followed her advice. Her motto should be “Do as I say, not as I do.” Who can forget when Dr. Birx gave a huge mandate to the people of our Nation to not travel, and then traveled a great distance to see her family for Thanksgiving—only to have them call the police and turn her in? She then, embarrassingly for her, resigned.
Finally, Dr. Birx says she can’t hear very well, but I can. There was no “very difficult” phone call, other than Dr. Birx’s policies that would have led us directly into a COVID caused depression. She was a very negative voice who didn’t have the right answers. Time has proven me correct. I only kept Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx on because they worked for the U.S. government for so long—they are like a bad habit!
It’s great, except it makes your author sad.
I’m sad because Trump didn’t have to be unloading on Fauci and Birx from Mar-a-Lago as a former president. Fauci, after all, still has a job as the highest-paid bureaucrat in the U.S. federal government.
Let’s be honest here. It’s extremely unfair that Trump was saddled with the Chinese coronavirus, and he was put in a near-impossible situation in dealing with something that was an impossible dream for the Democrat Party. Not only did it force Trump into a political minefield, but upon shallow examination it would appear that authoritarian government policies such as those Democrats want to impose anyway are prudent.
But Trump had all the right instincts from the beginning. He needed to follow those instincts and surround himself with people willing and capable to convert them into successful policy.
He did well with his first notion: banning travel from China. That was the smartest thing he did. Enlisting the private sector to ramp up production of PPE and other items America was short on thanks to the Obama administration’s gross mismanagement of national stockpiles was also a good move. Operation Warp Speed, aimed at producing a vaccine in record time, was also a good move and but for chicanery on the part of Big Pharma it would have benefited Trump’s reelection. Thanks for holding that announcement a week, Pfizer!
But the most fundamental instinct Trump had was also the most correct. Trump saw the virus for what it is. It’s a coronavirus. Everybody will get it eventually, and unless you’re in a number of specific at-risk categories it’s exceptionally unlikely it’ll kill you. For something like that, attempting to stop the spread is fruitless, a waste of time, and only prolongs the societal and economic damage the virus can cause.
What you need for a coronavirus is treatment. You need a program of medical care that works to get people past it.
Trump wanted that to be his focus, but he was unable to get there. He found himself accused of wanting people to inject themselves with bleach. It was reported that a woman who it later appeared might have murdered her husband with fish-tank cleaner killed him because of Trump’s positive statements about hydroxychloroquine. And on and on.
What Trump needed was cover. And he never found any. Why?
The Democrats on his coronavirus task force, that’s why.
He was beset by the public health bureaucrats from the CDC and National Institutes of Health, most of whom had performed poorly in previous epidemics. Every one of them sabotaged Trump, and every one did what they could to spread the narrative that there were no effective treatments for COVID. Of course, the tune is changing now. Magically.
By May Anthony Fauci and most of the rest of that task force should have been cashiered. And Trump should have been explicit that he was running them off because their groupthink and defeatist talk was insufficient to beat the virus. He should have replaced them with people whose strategies were in line with his ideas — that the virus can only be beaten with treatments and vaccines, not poverty and social isolation.
This isn’t a fair criticism given the challenge he was faced with, but there is no doubt COVID has been handled poorly by government top to bottom, and that includes Trump despite the fact he saw the virus clearly. It’s a damned shame.
Trump’s broadside against Fauci and Birx more or less confirms what we all knew — they were the ones insisting on lockdowns and quarantines of healthy people when Trump wanted treatments and economic resilience.
But the problem is, personnel is policy.
And Trump’s personnel was no good.
That was a problem on more than the COVID issue, of course. It’s fair to say Trump had no idea how much fumigation the federal bureaucracy was in need of when he took office, and as such he was surrounded with enemies seeking his demise, political and otherwise. He needed to mow down the duty roster of practically every governmental agency, and to the extent that was even possible he wasn’t ready to do it.
But by the time COVID came around, it was pretty obvious the public health bureaucracy was in need of a house-cleaning.
Let’s not forget that the national stockpile of PPE had been depleted during the Asian flu episode a decade earlier and never replenished — by the very people who were still in charge when Trump was inaugurated. That was reason enough to clean house, but the Faucis and Birxes had been deficient in other areas. It’s quite obvious they were unprepared for a major pandemic.
And our public health bureaucrats had stood by and allowed China to dominate the World Health Organization (WHO) to such an extent that Trump was compelled to pull U.S. funding out of it following its acting as stooges for the Chinese Communist Party. Even that didn’t work. The WHO is now spreading the completely implausible line that COVID-19 didn’t come from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, when it looks fairly obvious that it did.
What needed to happen was to fire these people, make the announcement that they weren’t tough enough to beat the virus, reference the replacement of George McClellan with U. S. Grant or Lloyd Fredendall with George Patton, and declare that henceforth federal government policy was going to be to find therapies and cures for COVID rather than attempt to imprison healthy people in an effort to stop the spread of a coronavirus that was already making the rounds nationwide. If Scott Atlas, Jay Bhattacharya, and Harvey Risch were Trump’s top coronavirus people instead of Fauci, Birx, and Robert Redfield, who now, well after the fact, is admitting COVID came from a biolab in Wuhan and that this fact was covered up (where the hell has that been for the past year?), he might actually have gotten somewhere.
Not to mention that since it was known a year ago and known without question now, per a CDC study showing that more than 75 percent of the Americans hospitalized with COVID suffered from obesity, that it was time for America to go on a nationwide health kick and for the federal government to experiment with public policy that incentivized citizens to get in shape. None of that was done. In fact, thanks to the COVID lockdowns we’re fatter and less healthy than we were a year ago. Maybe the fact that all the fitness clubs were closed down across the country had something to do with that.
I hate to say it, but Trump bears responsibility for this. He was the president of the United States. He had the power to fire these people. He didn’t do it because he thought he’d get crucified in the press and by the Democrats in the medical community — not to mention the dancing nurses on TikTok. Well, guess what: there was no avoiding that. Might as well do the right thing if you’re going to be savaged regardless of what you do.
And had Trump followed his instinct with the ruthlessness it required and put the country on a war footing against COVID-19 rather than its own economy and civil liberties, he would still be president today.
Which matters, and to a lot more people than Trump. The current occupant of his position is, with zero evidentiary justification, demanding more lockdowns and mask mandates as he babbles about patriotism. Some 100 million-plus doses of COVID vaccine have been administered, and rather than attempting to open the country back up Joe Biden is demanding that it remain closed. Our freedoms, under assault on multiple fronts, are being savaged by this current administration with COVID as a prime excuse.
Trump knew what needed to be done. But he didn’t fight hard enough. He didn’t get rid of the incompetent Fauci and Birx. And the incompetents have won.
A little “My bad” on this would go a long way. We’d gladly forgive him if he acknowledged the error. And we’d be even more willing to back him up against the propagandists and liars in the media who would attack him even more viciously if he came clean.
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