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Dr. Anthony Fauci with President George W. Bush in the Oval Office on June 19, 2008

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Dr. Anthony Fauci, now 80, joined the National Institutes of Health back in 1968 and has worked with a long list of Republican presidents — from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush to Gerald Ford. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has become an object of irrational hatred in the far-right MAGA movement. And journalist Alexander Bolton, in an article published by The Hill on December 1, explains why that hatred has recently become even worse.

Fauci considers his work with the federal government apolitical, often stressing that his top priority is public health regardless of whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican — and he typically dodges overtly political questions during his frequent appearances on MSNBC and CNN. But Fauci deeply offended thin-skinned MAGA Republicans when, during a Sunday, November 28 appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, he told host Margaret Brennan that his detractors are “really criticizing science because I represent science.”One of those Republicans was Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who claimed, “Tony Fauci is nothing more than a Democratic operative.” Cotton would do well to research his party’s pre-MAGA history; Fauci got along fine with President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush.

In fact, a June 19, 2008 press release from the George W. Bush White House stated, “Three decades ago, a mysterious and terrifying plague began to take the lives of people across the world. Before this malady even had a name, it had a fierce opponent in Dr. Anthony Fauci. As the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than 23 years, Tony Fauci has led the fight against HIV and AIDS. He was also a leading architect and champion of the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which over the past five years, has reached millions of people — preventing HIV infections in infants and easing suffering and bringing dying communities back to life.”

That press release went on to say, “Those who know Tony do admit one flaw: sometimes, he forgets to stop working…. For his determined and aggressive efforts to help others live longer and healthier lives, I'm proud to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.”

Regardless, Cotton and other Republicans view attacking Fauci as a way to score cheap political points with the MAGA crowd, and no one is better at such pandering than former Donald Trump critic turned obsequious Trump sycophant Ted Cruz. The far-right Texas senator has slammed Fauci as “the most dangerous bureaucrat in the history of America” and made the ludicrous comment that Fauci should serve prison time for denying that the NIH funded virus research at a lab in Wuhan, China — which is where COVID-19 was first reported in December 2019.

Fox News’ Lara Logan, according to Bolton, has even compared Fauci to the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele of Nazi Germany infamy.

But one Republican who is calling out the far right’s anti-Fauci nonsense is Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Bolton quotes the 2012 GOP presidential nominee as saying, “A lot of politics today is performance politics, which is saying things which excite the bases of our respective parties. I look at Dr. Fauci as an expert in disease and viruses (and) respect his point of view. He’s not perfect; like all humans, he will make mistakes. Politicizing him is just par for the course these days in our highly politicized environment, but I respect him as a scientist.”

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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