Dr. Anthony Fauci — the 79-year-old immunologist and Brooklyn native who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is a key member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force — has had a very difficult job in recent weeks. Giving the American people straight talk about the deadly pandemic without offending the hypersensitive and volatile Trump is no easy task. But impressively, Fauci has managed to pull it off — so far. And Never Trump conservative Charlie Sykes, in an article for The Bulwark, wonders how much longer Fauci will be able to keep it up.
Sykes, who co-founded The Bulwark with fellow Never Trumper Bill Kristol in late 2018 following the Weekly Standard’s demise, describes this “remarkable balancing act” as “the Faucian Bargain.”
“Like so many who have cycled through this bizarre presidency,” Sykes explains, “Fauci has been willing to make some sacrifices in order to stay in the room. It has been a remarkable balancing act. He has had to endure Trump’s ignorance and erratic fabulism. He has occasionally had to correct the president’s lies. But he has also held his tongue at critical moments; Fauci has not openly criticized the administration’s failures and has offered the obligatory praise when necessary.”
A variety of Americans across the political spectrum — from liberals and progressives to centrists to Never Trumpers — hold Fauci in high regard and realize that he has been a valuable source of information during the coronavirus pandemic. But Fauci is viewed with suspicion by some far-right wingnuts, who believe he is part of the “Deep State” and is using coronavirus to undermine Trump’s presidency. The #FireFauci hashtag has been trending on the far right, and Fauci has even had to step up his security detail because of death threats.
But for now, Sykes asserts, Fauci is “still in the room” — and Americans “should be grateful for that.”
“We get occasional hints of what he’s going through, but God knows how bad it is,” Sykes writes. “He has to put up with moronic crackpots like Peter Navarro, and has to stay quiet as the Trump Cult launches know-nothing attacks on science and against him personally. Just last week, we learned that threats to Fauci had led the government to step up his security.”
According to researchers at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, the United States has passed Italy as the country with the most coronavirus-related deaths in the world. Hopkins, as of early Monday morning, April 13, was reporting more than 22,000 deaths in the U.S. compared to 19,899 in Italy. Worldwide, Hopkins reported a staggering 115,225 coronavirus-related deaths worldwide.
And yet, experts say social distancing is working in many places: horrifying numbers would be even more horrifying without aggressive social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders. Fauci obviously realizes that, but as Sykes notes, Trump is “clearly growing impatient” with social distancing.
“Fauci’s approval ratings are far higher than Trump’s; so, he can still influence how the country reacts,” Sykes writes. “But that also means that he poses a threat to Trump…. If Trump decides to move too quickly to reopen the country for business, Fauci will face a stark choice: stay at the table or speak out.”