The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Pandemics

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Youtube Screenshot

Good-bye, Dr. Fauci. You did your job while under attack from the worst sort of people.

You devoted more than 50 years to public health. As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, you led us through HIV/AIDS, Ebola, COVID, respiratory syncytial virus and, every year, seasonal flu.

You say your "proudest moment" was your work with President George W. Bush on the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. PEPFAR is credited with having saved 20 million lives. (START ITAL)Twenty million lives.

That doesn't include the lives saved from your work in the late '70s and early '80s developing treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune-related diseases. Several that would have previously been death sentences are now in high remission.

And there was, of course, your guidance on dealing with COVID-19. Many who followed your advice during the initial outbreak with hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing are alive because of it. Many who mocked you are not.

When the COVID vaccine came along, you never tired of urging Americans to obtain it. Over a million Americans died from COVID, but an estimated 234,000 of those deaths could have been prevented if everyone had gotten their shots.

We wonder how many people died because Donald Trump and assorted lowlifes downplayed the disease, peddled phony cures and cast doubts on the vaccine. They may have had fun owning the libs, but they were also killing many of their followers. Why was never clear.

The sickest abuse came from the senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, who perversely accused you of being responsible for millions of deaths. When you told a Senate hearing that this claim led to threats against you and your family, Paul looked back blankly.

Brooklyn tough, you never backed down. That you served seven presidents from both parties didn't impress the jerks. You let the barrage of boobery splatter all around you as you went about your mission.

But let's give a respectful hearing to the argument that your recommendations caused harm by hurting the economy. Certainly, the social isolation tied to the shutdowns created its own problems.

I, for one, thought that once a vaccine became widely available, many places stayed closed longer than necessary. Schools, especially, could have resumed in-person learning sooner than they did.

But these decisions were made mostly by state and local governments, not you. Meanwhile, fear of a disease that spread easily, clogged emergency rooms with dying patients and left many of those afflicted with long-time illness was itself enough to empty stores, theaters and libraries.

Your harshest critics clearly didn't share the value you place on life. You said your saddest period was back in the '80s when you were treating people with HIV/AIDS and there was no effective therapy.

"We were taking care of very sick, mostly young gay men who were healthy," you said in a recent interview. "You see every single one of them dying or going to die soon." All medicine could offer back then was comfort.

Approaching your 82nd birthday and about to leave public service, you still can't take your eyes off current and new threats.

"We can do things that are very important to mitigate against at least two of them," you said. That would be COVID and seasonal flu. As we know, there are vaccines for both of them.

We know your first name is Anthony, but you can't blame us for thinking it's "Doctor." And, by the way, you looked great on your farewell interviews.

When the documentaries, movies and operas are written about the COVID era, you will be portrayed as the hero and those who attacked you as creeps. Where should we put your monument?

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Reps. Elise Stefanik, Kevin McCarthy, and Steve Scalise

Youtube Screenshot

Republicans will hold a small majority in the House of Representatives next year, media outlets projected on Wednesday. The party's leaders have made clear that they intend to use their new power to launch investigations based on right-wing conspiracy theories and of President Joe Biden.

The last time Republicans controlled Congress with a Democrat in the White House, under President Barack Obama, they launched an array of politicized investigations into what they alleged were issues relating to the administration. The probes turned up little and took up thousands of hours of lawmakers' time.

In an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked by host Sean Hannity about his caucus' plans to investigate the president's son Hunter, the alleged "politicization" and "weaponization" of federal law enforcement, and the true origins of the coronavirus.

"We've already begun," the California Republican said. "We want to know the origins of where COVID began, so we never have that happen again. Who funded it? How did it get there?"

Most scientific studies have suggested that the virus spread from a live animal market, not a virology lab.

McCarthy detailed several other planned investigations into the Biden administration:

We want to know what happened in the last 60 days of Afghanistan. Why didn't the president listen to the military, creating 13 new Gold Star families that never should have taken place? We've got a number of ways. Why did the DOJ go after parents and call them terrorists? How can we have a secretary of homeland [security] calling that this border is secure, when you have more than 2.7 individuals [sic] illegally coming across? Are the number of people on the terrorist watch list coming into America? What do they have planned, who are they talking to, and why are they here? That's just a start.

House Republicans voted 188-31 on Tuesday to nominate McCarthy for House speaker. He will need 218 votes to win the job in January.

Politicoreported Wednesday that Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and James Comer (R-KY) had told Fox News that they are planning investigations into Hunter Biden's business dealings and into whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice are biased against Republicans.

"We are going to make it very clear that this is now an investigation of President Biden," Comer told the network.

Before the election, McCarthy had downplayed his caucus' plans to politicize the oversight process. In a September 29 press conference, he said they would not do to Biden what Democrats had done to twice-impeached former President Donald Trump.

"We just went through four years of watching a political impeachment," he said. "We will uphold the law. We will not play politics with it. But we'll do whatever in the nature that the rules and facts take us to."

But in a secretly recorded video taken by the Undercurrent's Lauren Windsor in October, Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona promised that under a Republican majority, "Jim Jordan, when he chairs the Oversight Committee, will spend 240 days knifing the Biden administration."

In 2015, McCarthy bragged to Hannity that their duplicative investigations into a 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, had achieved their true purpose: hurting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's political prospects.

"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping," he said. "Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought and made that happen."

Much of the GOP's midterm election rhetoric was focused on the economy and consumer prices.

And while exit polling indicated that those issues, along with abortion rights, public safety, and gun violence were the most important to voters, House Republicans are making clear that they intend to focus much of their effort on something that was not a priority for any significant segment of voters.

Kyle Herrig, executive director of the Congressional Integrity Project, an outside group focused on defending the Biden administration, said in a press release on Thursday that Comer and Jordan had revealed "House Republicans' true intentions – politically motivated investigations into President Biden, his family, and his cabinet. Instead of addressing the issues that affect the American people the most, they are acting like Donald Trump and pushing their radical MAGA Republican agenda."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.