Sadly for America, when a major pandemic hit, Debbie Downer told the powers that be we had to shut it all down — the economy, schools, everything.
So we did.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the highest-paid government employee (he makes more than the president and every four-star general), first told us that masks were pointless, then ordered us all to wear them everywhere (he eventually said two masks are even better than one).
That turned out to be totally wrong. Study after study said masks really don’t do a thing.
But now, Dr. Fauci — who recently admitted that he and his team “botched” the response to COVID-19 — said he’s not to blame for anything.
Dr. Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl if it was a “mistake” for him and his team to urge schools to be closed as long as they were.
“I don’t want to use the word ‘mistake,’ Jon, because if I do, it gets taken out of the context that you’re asking me the question on,” Dr. Fauci said. “We should realize, and have realized, that there will be deleterious collateral consequences when you do something like that.”
Dr. Fauci claimed that he always told health officials to do “everything we can to keep the schools open.”
“No one plays that clip. They always say ‘Fauci was responsible for closing schools.’ I had nothing to do [with it]. I mean, let’s get down to the facts,” Dr. Fauci said.
So as the top immunologist in the nation, Dr. Fauci had nothing to do with it. Does he not realize that top government officials — who, by the way, happen not to be top immunologists — were simply following guidance from the top immunologist?
Test scores show the disastrous results of shuttering schools for more than a year. A Department of Education study released last month showed average reading scores for 9-year-olds dropped 5 points while average math scores fell 7 points in 2022 compared with 2020. The decline in reading scores was the biggest drop in more than three decades, while the drop in math scores was the first on record.
Last month, Dr. Fauci admitted his team blew the response to COVID-19. On school closings, he said, “Although you have to be aware and not deny that there are deleterious consequences for prolonged periods of time for keeping children out of school, remember, the safety of children is also important.”
Dr. Fauci also acknowledged he and his team “botched” certain aspects of how to handle COVID-19 after it hit the U.S. in March 2020, including his flip-flopping on the efficacy of masks and the lengthy time it took to make rapid tests available nationwide.
“We didn’t know masks worked outside of the hospital setting. There was supposedly a shortage of good masks for the people who were taking care of individuals,” the doctor said in an interview that aired last week at the Texas Tribune Festival.
And he put the blame on others for how slow the U.S. was in delivering rapid tests, saying, “They did not get the commercial involvement in the tests quickly. They stuck to their own tests,” he said, not defining just who “they” are.
Dr. Fauci, who plans to step down before the end of the year — thus avoiding possible investigations of him when Republicans take control of the House and Senate in the midterm elections — has a huge ego, and he’s trying to solidify his legacy as the savior of America.
His ego is so big he has a pillow on an armchair in his living room with a picture of … himself. The pillow features a quote — from himself, of course — that reads: “It is what it is.”
Dr. Fauci’s galaxy-sized ego has been on display throughout the pandemic. He was on TV nearly every week, and at one point made a round through the sports-show circuit to talk about whether the NFL should wear masks under their helmets to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In the ABC interview, Dr. Fauci smirked as he recounted how the pandemic turned him into a worldwide celebrity.
“I vividly remember your very first appearance in the White House briefing room in one of the COVID briefings, where a reporter shouted out, interrupted you, and asked you to say your name,” Mr. Karl said. “I suspect that may have been the last time you were asked to identify yourself.”
“Yeah, I think so, in fact a lot has happened since then that’s been an amazing journey that all of us have been through, and still are in, actually,” Dr. Fauci said.
Soon, though, Doc, you won’t be leading that journey. Let’s just hope that you retire, you really go away. And don’t worry, Tony, we’ll decide what your legacy is.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.