In case you missed it: Sen. Rand Paul delivered a much-needed, long overdue, thankfully-finally-here reality check to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s COVID-19 whisperer, reminding the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director in a Senate panel hearing earlier this week that hey now, hey guy, you’re just a guy — and your expertise on viruses shouldn’t be taken as expertise on politics, government, economics, policy or the running of a nation and its peoples.
In other words: The Fauci influence over all walks of American life should fade.
Finally. About time. Somebody on Capitol Hill had the temerity to tell it like it is. Or like it should be.
Fauci has been the White House’s go-to prognosticator on the coronavirus — but he’s been wildly wrong in his predictions. That hasn’t stopped government, however, from taking his flawed science and running roughshod over citizens’ civil rights via executive orders backed by police intimidation and, in some cases, arrests.
It’s high time for Fauci to fade into that good night.
And Paul, in his capacity as a senator, delivered a magnificent reminder of what Fauci’s rightful role should have been, and should be, on COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
First, Paul said, factually speaking, and despite what the computer models have predicted, the mortality rate from COVID-19 has been quite small.
“I don’t think anyone is certain when we’re doing all this modeling,” he said. “There have been more people wrong with modeling than right.”
Second, Paul said, on the nail-biters who fear opening America for business and opening America’s businesses for consumers — they should really reel in the fear and focus more on facts.
“I hope the people who are predicting doom and gloom and saying, ‘Oh, we can’t do this [open economy], there’s going to be this surge,’ will admit that they were wrong if there isn’t a surge,” he said. “Because I think that’s what’s going to happen.”
“Really, outside of New England,” Paul said, “we’ve had a relatively benign course for this virus nationwide.”
Facts. Facts versus fear.
Third, Paul said, on the idea of predicting now, mid-May, of the need to possibly, potentially, err, probably, umm, most definitely keep all schools around the nation closed this fall due to COVID-19 concerns — that’s stuff and nonsense.
“I think the one size fits all — that we’re going to have a national strategy and nobody’s going to go to school — is kind of ridiculous. We really ought to be doing it school district by school district, and the power needs to be dispersed because people make wrong predictions,” he said.
Yes, they do.
Just ask Fauci — or maybe, better yet, some Fauci watchers.
“And really,” Paul went on, speaking of the whole COVID-19 crisis, “the history of this when we look back will be of wrong prediction after wrong prediction after wrong prediction.”
Zing. That’s the sound of an arrow striking truth.
Now comes the reality slap to Fauci.
“So I think we ought to have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what’s best for the economy,” Paul said, “and as much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge and that we can safely open the economy and the facts will bear this out, but if we keep kids out of school for another year, what’s going to happen is the poor and underprivileged kids who don’t have a parent that’s able to teach them at home are not going to learn for a full year. … I think it’s a huge mistake if we don’t open the schools in the fall.”
Fauci didn’t like the remarks.
He responded with this: “I have never made myself out to be the ‘end all’ and only voice in this. I’m a scientist, a physician, a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence. … I don’t give advice about economic things … [or] about anything other than public health.”
And then he flipped the humble pie comment back at the senator, while doubling down on the need to stay — well, driven by fear, not fact.
“You [say] we should be humble about what we don’t know, and I think that falls under the fact we don’t know everything about this virus, and we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children, because the more and more we learn, we’re seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn’t see from the studies in China … for example right now children presenting with COVID-19 who actually have a very strange inflammatory syndrome. … I think we better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.”
Here’s the thing, though.
Rand is right. Fauci is off mark.
Fauci can deny all he wants that his medical recommendations aren’t economic or political. But that’s a splitting of hairs.
Just hours before heading into this Senate panel hearing, Fauci told The New York Times in an email that opening the country prematurely would cause “needless suffering and death.” That’s not scientific. That’s hyperbolic, aimed at eliciting fear and panic among the population. Science would offer up numbers and facts and possibly present scenarios and analysis and context based on those numbers and facts — but leave the conclusions to others.
After all, keeping closed the economy for another week, another month, another year, another could also cause “needless suffering and death” — that last, due to suicides — yet Fauci, the scientist, didn’t offer that assessment. Why not?
That’s why not. And that’s just one example of how Fauci in recent weeks has crossed from science to politics, from medicine to economics. He’s run this power race long enough.
As Paul said: Fauci is just a dude. He’s not the “end all” of COVID-19 knowledge and wisdom.
America should stop treating him as such and regarding his so-called science as if it were fact. It’s not. It’s barely even fact-based opinion.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.