Dr. Anthony Fauci announced July 18 that he plans to call it quits as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) department at the National Institutes of Health. However, Fauci’s retirement may not take effect until the end of Joe Biden’s term as president. The famed and controversial scientist asserted his desire is “to calm the politicization wracking the country” regarding COVID-19. Yet, oddly, he chose Politico as the forum to make his intentions known to the American public. This bizarre juxtaposition of words and actions is vintage Fauci – and perhaps why he has become such a polarizing figure.
Fauci’s Retirement Timing
The imprint of politics is evident in the timing of Fauci’s retirement. Politico writer Sarah Owermohle indicated the top doc is already bracing for a post-midterm conflict with the GOP. “[H]e’s prepared for the onslaught of attacks that could come in a Republican-controlled House or Senate next year – with many running in the midterms on campaigns deriding the lockdowns, school closures, and masking requirements that Fauci said were necessary pandemic precautions – but insists that is not part of his calculus for retirement,” she wrote.
It’s challenging to separate Fauci from his politics, which have informed so many of his decisions regarding how the nation should handle the pandemic. Democrats have primarily held a generous view of the man from Brooklyn, while Republicans and Libertarians find his actions unconscionable. For example, the doctor’s entry in Conservapedia.com reads in part:
“Fauci’s tyrannical approach to COVID-19 has been a complete failure by downplaying, denying, and even allowing obstruction of early treatment, which has been successful in poorer countries that have held their mortality rates far lower than in the U.S. under Fauci’s socialistic approach.”
But perhaps no one has been more of a thorn in the side of Fauci than Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who jousted with the infectious disease expert in public hearings, called him a liar, and did an effective job of forcing him to answer difficult questions.
Although Paul brought up myriad concerns about Fauci’s early involvement with the Wuhan virus, skeptics of the 81-year-old doctor maintain his handling of COVID has been contradictory, often perplexing, and – some insist – tyrannical. Unfortunately, his personality leans toward pomposity – a style that rubs many Americans the wrong way. As well, a substantial number of his admonitions and predictions have not panned out. Conservatives blame the presidential adviser for what they see as faulty medical guidance. The Holy Cross graduate initially sold the COVID vaccine to the public as the answer to the pandemic; his advice to President Donald Trump caused a shutdown of the country for a time and is at least partially responsible for what ails the US economy now.
Sinner or Saint
The COVID virus has proven to be a problematic adversary, and Fauci’s know-it-all attitude has grated on many, who have become exhausted by his dictatorial mandates. “[H]is assessment, that we’ll live with Covid-19 for many years to come, is a startling admission from the longtime infectious disease expert who said the country could flatten the curve and achieve herd immunity, first through social distancing and then vaccination,” writes Owermohle. As pharmaceutical companies mix up another batch of vaccines for this fall, Americans may have reached the saturation point.
After announcing his pending retirement, Fauci stated that “he is staying in his role out of a sense of obligation” but acknowledged “there may never be a definitive moment when the country can claim victory over an evolving virus that has killed more than one million Americans and left thousands with long Covid symptoms.” Good riddance to both.