Should Trump step aside and put Anthony Fauci in charge?
We Americans face a monumental choice in 2020. Every four years, we're told this is the most important presidential election in our lifetime. But this time, it's true. We've never faced a clearer choice: between the most ignorant, incompetent, ineffective, gross, disgusting, repulsive president ever and, most likely, the most qualified person ever to seek the presidency. That choice, between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, is a no-brainer. America could not survive another four years of Donald Trump.
But, before we even get to that decision point on November 3, in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, Americans have another choice to make: between Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci. And that choice may be even more critical than the presidential election because tens of thousands of lives are at stake between now and then.
The battle between Trump and Fauci's been brewing for a long time. It started in mid-April when Fauci, in an implicit criticism of Trump's two-month delay in taking the coronavirus seriously, told CNN's Jake Tapper that, had the administration acted earlier, "you could have saved lives." The thin-skinned Trump responded by retweeting a conservative commentator's post "Time to #FireFauci," then immediately backed down.
Tension between the two continued to build over the next few weeks, however, as Fauci, in his own, quiet way, not wanting to spark a public kerfuffle, proceeded to repudiate every one of Trump's lies. Trump bragged that a virus was just around the corner; Fauci correctly noted that development of a vaccine would take at least a year. At a subsequent briefing, Trump trumpeted the "miracle drug" hydroxychloroquine; he refused to let Fauci answer questions about whether it works. It does not. Trump actually suggested swallowing Lysol; Fauci was quick to warn against it. Fauci strongly advised wearing a mask; Trump refused to do so. Fauci urged governors to require social distancing; Trump, instead, praised gun-toting supporters demanding an end to social distancing.
At each step, it was the most knowledgeable person about infectious diseases vs. the idiot who knows absolutely nothing about anything. It was the man whose sole mission is saving lives vs. the political egomaniac who cares about nothing but winning re-election in November.
Differences between the two boiled over this week when Dr. Fauci, in testimony before the Senate (the White House had prohibited him from testifying in the House), warned that reopening schools and businesses too soon would carry great risk. If some cities or states open up prematurely, he told members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, "my concern is that we will start to see the spikes that might turn into outbreaks." Fauci also cautioned against rushing to reopen schools. "We don't know everything about this virus and we really better be pretty careful, particularly when it comes to children."
The idea that anyone would dare disagree with his unfounded declaration that the virus is behind us and it's time to reopen schools and restaurants and go back to life as normal incensed Donald Trump. He accused Fauci of wanting "to play all sides of the equation" and said Fauci's warning not to rush to reopen was "not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools." Which came the very day New York health officials reported more than 100 cases of a very dangerous, COVID-related inflammatory syndrome that afflicts children only.
In order to survive the worst human health and economic crises in our lifetime, we must decide whose advice we're going to follow. Should we believe Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the world, a leader in dealing with public health issues for over 50 years, and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984? Or should we believe Donald Trump, a total ignoramus who not only has zero medical or scientific credentials, but who won't even listen to those who do? For anybody with half a brain, that choice is clear.
Don't take it from me. Take it from Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the third-highest ranking Republican in the House, who responded to Trump's attacks on Fauci with this tweet on May 12: "Dr. Fauci is one of the finest public servants we have ever had. He is not a partisan. His only interest is in saving lives. We need his expertise and his judgment to defeat this virus. All Americans should be thanking him. Every day." Amen. If only Trump would step aside and put Anthony Fauci in charge.
(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, "Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him)." His email address is: email@example.com. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)