After nearly 40 years as the government’s top infectious disease official, Dr. Anthony Fauci has announced that he will be stepping down from his role as President Biden’s top medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in December. The question is — is he making an exit or a getaway?
Fauci was clear in his press release that though he is 81 years old, this isn’t a retirement. He insisted he still has a lot of “energy and passion for [his] field,” and wants to “pursue the next chapter of [his] career.” He then warned — err announced — that he will be spending his remaining geriatric years tutoring other physicians. One wonders if he’ll be tutoring them in the art of hubris.
“I want to use what I have learned as NIAID Director to … inspire and mentor the next generation of scientific leaders as they help prepare the world to face future infectious disease threats,” he said. Heaven help us.
But that, of course, is the PR explanation. One need only look at midterm polling to suss out another reason Fauci may be beating a hasty retreat from public service. His timing means he will exit his post just as Republicans are expected to take control of the House and possibly the Senate.
With Democrats in control of Congress, Fauci has never been made to answer in any serious way for pressuring media outlets and other bureaucrats to suppress medical opinions that didn’t align with his. He has never faced a serious investigation over whether his agency funded gain-of-function research in the Wuhan lab that many experts believe was the source of COVID. Nor has he had to answer questions about whether he lied to Congress when he said NIAID never bankrolled such research.
If Republicans win big in November, as they’re still projected to, that could all change.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted Monday afternoon, immediately following the top doc’s announcement, “Fauci’s resignation will not prevent a full-throated investigation into the origins of the pandemic. He will be asked to testify under oath regarding any discussions he participated in concerning the lab leak.”
That was a sentiment echoed by many Republican leaders.
“Dr. Fauci is conveniently resigning from his position in December before House Republicans have an opportunity to hold him accountable for destroying our country over these past three years,” said Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ), adding that Fauci is “a coward.”
House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) endorsed that view, promising that Fauci’s resignation will not prevent Republicans from holding him accountable. “Retirement can’t shield Dr. Fauci from congressional oversight. The American people deserve transparency and accountability about how government officials used their taxpayer dollars, and [House Oversight Republicans] will deliver,” Comer said.
Interestingly, this all assumes that Fauci has timed his departure according to his own whims and not the White House’s, something that should be very much up for debate. Given how Fauci has been polling this year, there’s every reason to suspect some back room Team Biden discussions may have ended in the conclusion that “Tony” had become a liability for Democrats’ future prospects.
Right now, along with the rest of his mostly abysmal approval numbers, President Biden is upside down on his handling of COVID — a sharp swing from when he took office. With Fauci’s recommendations for lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine requirements, he has rightly become the face of authoritarianism. That’s a reminder the administration doesn’t want the public to have as we head into the last leg of midterm elections and the first leg of the 2024 presidential campaign.
But whether or not the White House gave Fauci a little push on his way out the door, there’s little doubt Democrats will do everything in their power to memory-hole the man who was once their favorite cover boy. They won’t want to see Fauci’s face around the halls of power again. Republicans need to make it clear it’s not up to them.
As House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) put it, “Dr. Fauci lost the trust of the American people when his guidance unnecessarily kept schools closed and businesses shut while obscuring questions about his knowledge on the origins of COVID.”
Regardless of the impetus for his leaving, justice demands that Fauci not be allowed to slink away quietly, with noblesse oblige generalities about how it has been “the honor of a lifetime to have led the NIAID.”
His honor has meant our suffering: rises in suicide and addiction deaths as desperate people were left in isolation. America’s first promise of freedom of religion broken as churches were forbidden to gather for worship. Businesses forced into bankruptcy when they were forced to close their doors to customers. Kids set back years developmentally due to closed schools and masked faces. Grandparents who died alone in hospital rooms instead of surrounded by their children and grandchildren.
For the sake of all of them, if Republicans win, they need to follow through on their promises of an investigation. You may be ready to say goodbye, Dr. Fauci. But the American people expect to see you later.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.