by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
More than a year ago, Americans welcomed Anthony Fauci into their homes as a sober scientist who was helping them make sense of a deadly new virus. But he has worn out that welcome.
It’s true that Fauci has enjoyed an illustrious career, advising every president since Ronald Reagan and winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. There’s much to admire in his overall leadership since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, as director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, he has a serious job that’s not supposed to involve being a media spokesman so ubiquitous that it’s hard to believe he ever turns down any media requests.
As he’s maintained a media schedule worthy of a serious presidential candidate or an actor in a new major studio release, Fauci has gradually stopped standing apart from the contentious debate about the pandemic, lockdowns, restrictions, precautions, and what is safe and what is risky. Instead, he has become part of the acrimony, offering murky and sometimes contradictory recommendations. This goes well beyond his initially discouraging the use of masks in January and February 2020, like most U.S. public health officials, or his mid-March 2020 reassurance: “The guidelines are a 15-day trial guideline to be reconsidering. It isn’t that these guidelines are now going to be in effect until July.”
Fauci doesn’t write or establish the quarantine policies being enforced by cities and states; he can only advise other people in and out of government. But his voice carries a lot of weight, and, more or less willingly, he has become the face of America’s quarantine policies. Frustratingly, his perspective always seem to be that the right time to open up is another six weeks from now, no matter how low caseloads get or how much the national vaccination program accelerates.