With a third coronavirus surge sweeping the country and just 15 days left until the election is over, there’s only one sensible thing for a struggling incumbent to do: Hop on a phone call with reporters and trash the nation’s top health official.
The U.S. now averages 55,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases per day, and 10 states reported their highest-ever single-day increases in cases on Friday. As the country rolls into what could very well be the darkest weeks of the pandemic, President Trump on Sunday mocked Joe Biden for trusting scientists, and today on a campaign call derided Dr. Anthony Fauci as “a disaster” whom he’d fire if not for the political fallout: “People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong.” (Never failing to put his weirdest foot forward, the president also attacked the country’s top epidemiologist for being bad at baseball.)
Trump’s latest public display of animosity followed a candid 60 Minutes interview in which Fauci acknowledged that the White House had blocked him from appearing on “many, many, many shows” to talk about the pandemic, said he wasn’t at all surprised that Trump had contracted coronavirus, and described the harassment and death threats his family has endured since Trump and the right-wing media made him into an enemy. After guiding the country through health crises under six administrations, Fauci now requires a security detail when he and his wife go for a walk.
It’s difficult to fathom, but the White House may be less prepared to address the current crisis than it was back in March. The coronavirus task force has been in chaos since the arrival of non-epidemiologist/pseudoscience-peddler Scott Atlas, whom Trump recruited to transform the pandemic response into a Fox News echo chamber. Atlas has largely sidelined the other doctors on the task force while advocating for a herd immunity strategy, questioning the usefulness of social distancing and masks, and repeating the absurd claim that the pandemic is winding down. On Saturday, Twitter deleted a tweet from Atlas arguing that masks don’t work, for violating its misinformation policy. The White House pays him taxpayer dollars to say the same.
photo by Elko Weaver: https://www.elkophotography.com/