Fauci Saves

Photograph Source: The White House – Public Domain

What kind of a country is it that will not care for its own people?

The president of the United States pulled a Pontius Pilate when he washed his hands of ensuring the people he supposedly governs are safe from COVID-19. He is underlining his disregard for setting an example of protection from the disease by strutting around with an in-your-face machismo attitude without a mask.

That faux stance is rich coming from an overweight pretender to a would-be throne whose unseen bone spurs kept him out of the Vietnam War in which 58,000 Americans gave their lives. Now, on his watch, the number of American COVID-19-related deaths top that number by far and probably are headed toward six figures.

Narcissus, of Greek mythology, would be proud of this guy, who’s fixated on himself and his physical appearance. (See hairdo, orange face.) Narcissism is a mental personality disorder, says the Mayo Clinic, “in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships and a lack of empathy for others.” Familiar?

The problem? A leader with such a disorder can have a deadly impact on those he leads. He holds our lives in his hands with every executive order, every spontaneous whim. Remember his absurd advice to take bleach or a disinfectant as a cure for COVID-19?

For example, he put himself above the experts and declared it was time to reopen America, falsely stating the number of tests that have been conducted to determine who has contracted the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which is an acronym for Corona Viral Disease 2019. He said the United States has carried out more tests than any other country in the world. Bull.

Isn’t his exaggeration, another lie, pure and simple, dangerous? Does it not mean anything that Americans are falsely lulled by their president into thinking they can return to a pre-pandemic life before the virus has been controlled, eliminated as a threat? This spiny disease generator creates incredible suffering, prolonged agony that attacks the lungs and, seemingly, other organs. What must it be like to not to be able to breathe.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom Trump has sidelined despite his decades-long sterling reputation as an infectious disease specialist, warned the Senate health committee May 12 that a premature opening of America could portend “a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control.”

Such a move, he cautioned, could mean “some suffering and death that could be avoided but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery because it would almost turn the clock back rather than going forward.” Clever to insert economic recovery.

For it’s economic recovery that Trump is most concerned about because the continuing Depression era-like unemployment, a plunging stock market and shuttered stores and restaurants could affect his chances at re-election. Some states already have begun lifting their lockdowns, ignoring warnings by Fauci and other infectious disease experts.

Like a petulant 5-year-old in the body of a 73-year-old, Trump banished Fauci to the hinterlands because he outshone the president at his daily briefings, gently contradicting the president’s false claims about a disappearing virus that at the same time was savaging thousands of people he was elected to govern and protect. He failed.

Fauci saves.

The Covid Tracking Project said states report about 300,000 tests a day, “about a tenth of the 3 million or more a day that experts say is the minimum needed to begin to safely open workplaces again,” The Washington Post said in a May 11 editorial. Trump, it said, should be in charge of “a Manhattan Project for the pandemic age. Instead, he left the job to governors, and the nation is staggering under the consequences.”

Vaccine specialist Dr. Rick Bright, rapidly demoted from his directorship of a government agency devoted to disease research after he refused to approve a Trump-recommended malaria medicine for use against COVID-19, warned a House subcommittee May 14 the virus outbreak will worsen if the country does not come up with a national testing strategy and a plan to distribute a vaccine.

“The window is closing to address this pandemic because we still do not have a standard, centralized, coordinated plan to take this nation through this response” to the virus, Bright said.

This should be the job of the federal government. But, then, Trump is in charge of the federal government.

Bright said it could take a year to 18 months to develop a vaccine.

This self-proclaimed “wartime president,” a Trump-19 who, like a virus, has infected our country with hatred, who has lied to our faces without flinching, who has denied us the weapons with which we could protect ourselves from a horrific disease that apparently also takes our children from us, has lived in a fantastical alternate reality while tens of thousands of Americans are dying in a world shaken with fear.

Maybe his urging America to reopen despite the invisible protein molecules continually attacking us has him imagining he’s Navy Adm. David Farragut. He was a hero during the previous Civil War, the one with bullets, in which he was celebrated for saying during the battle in Mobile Bay, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” That’s if Trump knows any American history.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the meaning of the COVID-19 acronym.

Richard C. Gross, who covered war and peace in the Middle East and was foreign editor of United Press International, served as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.