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Tag: george w bush

Is Joe Biden’s Approval Rating In ‘Free Fall’? Nope

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Amid breathless reports of a political "free fall" and reeling from the White House's "summer from hell," the Beltway press has leaned into the idea that Joe Biden's presidency is unraveling — that his approval rating is in a state of collapse.

Except it's not true. Instead, it's the media falling in love with their favorite Dems In Disarray storyline. The same media that shrugged at Trump's chronically awful approval rating.

In a typical, overheated dispatch, a CNBC report recently announced, "Biden's Approval Ratings Have Plummeted, and That Could Spell trouble for Democrats in Congress." First off, the idea that Biden's approval rating in September 2021, is going to impact the outcome of November 2022 midterms makes no sense. Secondly, Biden's approval rating has fallen a grand total of four points in the past month, according to the polling average tabulated at FiveThirtyEight. So much for the "plummet."

Is Biden's' approval rating down this summer? It is, to 46 percent. Is he in some sort of manic freefall as the press suggests, fueled by the troop pullout from Afghanistan and the Delta surge? He is not.

A true ratings collapse would be like when President Ronald Reagan's approval dropped nine points in five days when the Iran Contra scandal broke. Or when George W. Bush's cratered 16 points in three months following the launch of the disastrous Iraq War.

Here are the Biden approval ratings from last 15 polls posted at FiveThirtyEight, minus the Rasmussen surveys, which are notoriously pro-Republican: 46, 44, 47, 47, 49, 47, 48, 42, 48, 49, 47, 44, 47, 50, 48.

If you take out the high (50) and the low (42) data points, the results have been markedly consistent this month. Where's the plummet?

When a recent Quinnipiac poll showed Biden's approval at 42 percent, Newsweek announced, "Joe Biden's Approval Rating Continues to Sink, Shows No Signs of Improving." Newsweek then ignored the fact that the next seven polls released after Quinnipiac all showed him improving.

The cherry picking seems intentional. When a NPR/PBS voter survey in early September showed Biden's approval at 43 percent, CNN's Chris Cillizza pounced: "This Poll Number Will Send Democrats Into a Panic." A week later though, Cillizza was silent when CNN's own poll found Biden's approval climbing to 52 percent.

CNN seemed to struggle with how to cover its good-news-for-Biden poll when the Beltway's preferred narrative was his "summer from hell." This was CNN's online headline for a story that showed Biden with a strong approval rating: "Americans Turn Pessimistic Amid Concerns Over Economy and Coronavirus." Later in a news segment, when a CNN anchor suggested the network's latest showing had Biden's rating at 43 percent, she had to be corrected by a guest who pointed out CNN's survey showed a 52 percent mark.

Biden's summertime slide has been fueled by Afghanistan and Covid, two unique and pressing challenges. But it also represents a natural progression for first term presidents as the so-called "honeymoon" with voters slowly wears off. Between being sworn in January 2009, and September 1 of that year, President Barack Obama, a successful two-term president, lost seven points on his approval rating, which is exactly how many points Biden has dipped since his inauguration.

Note that as with Biden, the press often obsessed over minor downward movements in Obama's approval in order to concoct a narrative about a president "sinking" and "plunging." At one point, a New York Times editorial was so anxious to push a narrative about Obama's supposedly broken presidency, it fabricated his approval rating, claiming it was 40 percent in a new poll, when it was actually 50 percent in that new survey.

The contrast with how the press has treated the popularity of the last two Democratic presidents with how they treated Trump's unpopularity couldn't be more startling.

When Biden's approval rating first fell below 50 percent this summer, it was considered newsworthy, as pundits weigh in on the approval "slide" and wondered if the Afghanistan story was going to doom his presidency. Rarely included in that heavy-handed analysis was the fact that at the same point in his presidency, Trump was sitting at a woeful 37 percent approval rating.

While Trump wallowed in abysmal ratings for most of his presidency (he never cracked 50 percent), the press mostly looked away, treating his poor standing as being usual. It was normalized.

Here's a quick example. In October, 2018 Politico published a piece about Trump's fire hose, "new media strategy," where he appeared on TV without pause and constantly answered reporters' shouted questions at the White House. In the eyes of Politico, it was a novel and winning strategy — it "worked" for Trump. And Politico even singled out Trump's top aide who was responsible for the approach.

Of course, what Politico never mentioned, and what the D.C. press didn't really think mattered in October 2018, was that Trump's approval stood at a lowly 41 percent.

Can you imagine today if Biden's approval fell five more points, to 41 percent, and the Beltway press started writing stories about how smart his communications strategy was? It's inconceivable because Democrats are held to a tougher media standard.

A Disturbing Decline, From 9/11 Unity To Pandemic Division

The 21st century in America has so far been bracketed by two terrible mass-casualty events. The first was the 9/11 attacks, 20 years ago today. The second is the COVID-19 pandemic. The radically different public response to these episodes reveals a lot about us, and much of it is not flattering.

The airline hijackings were the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history. They catalyzed a wave of fear and anger that permanently reshaped our foreign and domestic policies — or, rather, warped them.

The near-panic that gripped the nation back then is understandable. But it's plain today that our leaders, with broad public support, grossly overreacted. The consequences afflict us even now.

No one could have imagined on September 10, 2001, that an American president would authorize the use of torture against alleged enemies in secret prisons. Or that hundreds of American Muslims would be arrested and detained without charges for days, weeks or months. Or that hostility toward Muslims would grow widespread enough to require a new term: Islamophobia. Or that the government would soon be collecting millions of records of phone communications — many of them in violation of the law.

Worse yet, though, were the two protracted wars the United States launched after the 9/11 attacks. The invasion of Afghanistan was a legitimate response, because the terrorist group behind the attacks had been operating there. But after toppling the Taliban and routing al-Qaida, we stayed on in a foolish quest to remake the country — a quest given up only recently.

Then there was the invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein. He had nothing to do with the attacks, which didn't stop President George W. Bush and those around him from using 9/11 as a pretext for war. Between Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. sacrificed more than 6,800 American lives and trillions of dollars. But the president who initiated them was rewarded with reelection.

All this came in response to attacks that cost fewer than 3,000 lives. This pandemic will kill more Americans than that in the next three days — on top of the 649,000 who have already died from COVID-19.

The risk to each of us is hundreds of times greater than the risk of being killed by terrorists ever was. But the spirit of unity that arose after 9/11 has been conspicuously absent in the face of the virus.

What accounts for the disparity? Americans may not be unique in finding it easier to rouse themselves against violent human enemies than against microbes that spread silently through the populace. Osama bin Laden was easy to hate. The pathogen, visible only under a microscope, doesn't stir the same primal fury.

The 9/11 attacks produced a pervasive alarm that vastly exceeded the real danger. The low mortality rate of COVID-19, by contrast, has been used to downplay the need for basic public health measures, such as vaccinations and face coverings.

Leaders matter, for better or worse. Bush used his bully pulpit to call for a "crusade" against "evil-doers," and soon was vowing action against an "axis of evil" consisting of North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. In hyping the threat of terrorism, he commanded broad support and little meaningful resistance.

President Donald Trump, however, used his office to minimize the risks posed by COVID-19 and undermine public health guidance from experts. In March 2020, he admitted to journalist Bob Woodward that he had deliberately downplayed the virus in the full knowledge of how dangerous it was.

Publicly, he compared it to the flu and repeatedly promised it would soon disappear. He refused to wear a mask in public, mocked the government's chief infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and held indoor rallies in packed arenas.

Trump declared war not on foreign enemies but on Democratic governors such as Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer. His credulous followers soon came to see the pandemic as a hoax cooked up to keep Trump from being reelected.

Perhaps the best explanation for the sharply contrasting public reactions is that the war on terrorism caused a negligible inconvenience to the vast majority of Americans. COVID-19 demanded significant changes in how we live — and millions of people not only refused to cooperate but celebrated their defiance.

The measures deemed necessary to fight terrorism exploited our eagerness to hate our enemies, which we had no trouble doing. Those required to combat COVID-19 required us to love our neighbors. Somehow, that's a much harder sell.

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

On 9/11 Anniversary, Trump Will Do Ringside Chatter For A Boxing Match

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., and permanently altered life in the United States and the world.

And former President Donald Trump plans to spend that evening providing four hours of ringside commentary for a pay-per-view boxing event in Hollywood, Florida.

"I love great fighters and great fights," Trump said in a news release from FITE TV, the streaming network on which he'll provide commentary for a match between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort. "I look forward to seeing both this Saturday night and sharing my thoughts ringside. You won't want to miss this special event."

There has been no word on what else Trump might be doing on Saturday.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will spend the day at memorials in remembrance of those killed during the attacks, in which hijacked passenger planes were crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth plane, intended by its hijackers to hit a target in Washington as well, crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers learned about the other hijackings and fought back.

In 2020, the final year of his only term in office, Trump spent the anniversary of the attack at a memorial at Shanksville, where he gave a speech. Biden visited Shanksville later in the day, as well as the annual ceremony at the 9/11 memorial in New York City.

Biden is scheduled to visit all three sites on Saturday, as did former President Barack Obama on the 10th anniversary of the attacks in 2011.

Harris will attend the ceremony in Pennsylvania, as well as the one at the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, two other former presidents will also be part of the commemorations.

Obama will attend the ceremony in New York along with former first lady Michelle Obama, CNN reported.

George W. Bush, who was president at the time of the attacks, is scheduled to make a speech at the ceremony in Shanksville.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Former Bush Speechwriter: GOP May Soon ‘Regret’ Texas Abortion Law

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

This week, Texas' draconian anti-abortion law went into effect, and the U.S. Supreme Court — in a 5-4 decision — let the law proceed. Far-right social conservatives in the Republican Party are delighted, as they are optimistic that the High Court will overturn Roe v. Wade. But one conservative who isn't celebrating is journalist/author David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. In an article published by The Atlantic this week, Frum warns fellow conservatives that their anti-abortion victories could lead to a major backlash against the Republican Party.

According to the 61-year-old Frum, the Texas law and the possible end of Roe v. Wade will bring about a seismic shift in the abortion debate in the United States.

"Pre-Texas," Frum argues, "opposition to abortion offered Republican politicians a lucrative, no-risk political option. They could use pro-life rhetoric to win support from socially conservative voters who disliked Republican economic policy, and pay little price for it with less socially conservative voters who counted on the courts to protect abortion rights for them."

Frum continues, "Pre-Texas, Republican politicians worried a lot about losing a primary to a more pro-life opponent, but little about a backlash if they won the primary by promising to criminalize millions of American women. That one-way option has just come to an end."

The Texas law outlaws abortion about six weeks into a woman's pregnancy. Because many women who become pregnant don't know that they're pregnant until after six weeks, the law effectively prohibits abortion in most cases — even if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. To make matters worse, the law allows private citizens to sue someone for $10,000 if they "aid and abet" an abortion. And abortion rights activists are warning that even an Uber driver who drives a pregnant woman to an abortion clinic could be sued for that amount.

Because of the Texas law and the Supreme Court's response to it, Frum predicts, abortion will be a major issue going into the 2022 midterms.

"Today, accountability has suddenly arrived," Frum warns fellow conservatives. "Texas Republicans have just elevated abortion rights to perhaps the state's supreme ballot issue in 2022. Perhaps they have calculated correctly. Perhaps a Texas voting majority really wants to see the reproductive lives of Texas women restrained by random passersby. If that's the case, that's an important political fact, and one that will reshape the politics of the country in 2024."

Frum adds, "But it's also possible that Texas Republicans have miscalculated. Instead of narrowly failing again and again, feeding the rage of their supporters against shadowy and far-away cultural enemies, abortion restricters have finally, actually, and radically got their way."

Countless critics of the GOP have argued that Republicans are pushing voter suppression bills because they know how unpopular their ideas are. But Frum speculates that even voter suppression laws may not be enough to prevent Americans from expressing their disdain for the Texas law at the polls.

"There's already compelling evidence that Texas Republicans understand how detested their new abortion law will soon be — not only in New York City and Los Angeles, but also in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Fort Worth," Frum writes. "They took the precaution of preceding the nation's most restrictive abortion law with one of the nation's most suppressive voting laws…. But the Texas voting law only impedes voting; it does not prevent it."

According to Frum, "Republicans do best when the electorate is satisfied and quiet" but "face disaster when the electorate is mobilized and angry" — and the Texas law may result in a lot of angry, mobilized voters.

"Texas Republicans have just bet their political future in a rapidly diversifying and urbanizing state on a gambit: cultural reaction plus voter suppression," Frum stresses. "The eyes of Texas will be upon them indeed. The eyes of the nation will be upon them too."

Forgotten Lessons Led To Tragedy In Afghanistan

The spectacle of Americans and their local allies rushing desperately to evacuate from Kabul brought to mind similar scenes from Saigon in 1975. The repetition suggested that Americans and their leaders didn't learn from the earlier experience. In fact, we did learn. But then we forgot.

Maybe the surprise is not that we had to rediscover the difficulty of extricating our people and allies after giving up on an unsuccessful war. Maybe the surprise is that there was such a long interval between the two debacles. For a while, we avoided such failures, and not by accident.

In the 1980s, liberals depicted President Ronald Reagan as a trigger-happy warmonger. But his two terms stand out as a time when the United States, haunted by Vietnam, largely rejected direct military intervention abroad. He did dispatch Marines to Beirut as part of a peacekeeping force — but when a terrorist attack killed 241 American service members, he quickly withdrew our forces.

Reagan's Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger laid out a set of principles for deciding when to go to war. He argued that "vital national interests" must be at stake and that we must have clear objectives and the means to attain them.

By 1992, the "Weinberger Doctrine" was incorporated into the "Powell Doctrine" by Gen. Colin Powell, who served President George H.W. Bush as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Among his contributions was the rule that we have "a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement."

This approach didn't mean the U.S. would never go to war: We did so in 1983 in Grenada to topple a Marxist government and rescue American students. We did so in 1989 in Panama to remove a dictator blamed for drug trafficking. Most notably, we did so in 1991 to evict Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait.

Whether these wars were wise and necessary is subject to debate. But in each case, we did what we set out to do and got out.

Success, however, bred amnesia. President George W. Bush had little choice but to invade Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden used it as a base for the 9/11 attacks. But once the Taliban were defeated and al-Qaeda was on the run, Bush chose to stay in an effort to cultivate freedom, democracy, and prosperity. It was the antithesis of the Powell Doctrine: an ill-defined mission that lay beyond our core competence and was not essential to our security — all without an exit strategy.

It has been clear for years that our efforts in Afghanistan were not working. But three presidents chose to prolong our involvement rather than admit futility.

What we learned when President Joe Biden refused to continue the war is that our failure exceeded our worst assumptions. We didn't know what was really going on in Afghanistan, and we didn't know we didn't know. We were clueless in Kabul.

The sudden, complete disintegration of the government revealed that it was no more viable than a brain-dead patient on life support. All Biden did was pull the plug.

It's fair to say that his administration should have been better prepared for the collapse so it could manage a more orderly withdrawal. But as Texas A&M security scholar Jasen Castillo tweeted, "There is no pretty way to leave a losing war." The nature of wars is that winners dictate the final terms. And the Taliban won this war.

It's commonly assumed that we could have preserved the previous status quo by maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan. But by May 2020, long before Biden arrived, the government had seen its control dwindle to 30 percent of the country's 407 districts, with the Taliban controlling 20 percent — more than at any time since the U.S. invasion.

Back then, one expert told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, "The Taliban has so far been successful in seizing and contesting ever larger swaths of rural territory, to the point where they have now almost encircled six to eight of the country's major cities and are able to routinely sever connections via major roads." Sound familiar? The longer we stayed, the greater the risk of being forced into an even bigger commitment — with no hope of victory.

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus said to a reporter, "Tell me how this ends?" Before we embark on a war, not after, is the time to answer that question. If we don't have an answer, the enemy will.

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

Why The Press Won’t Tell The Truth About The ‘Forever Wars’

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

A media chorus of excited critics has been relentless this week, denouncing President Joe Biden for the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and warning that his entire presidency is now "stained." Tightly adhering to Republican talking points, the pundit class is sure Biden has stumbled into a historic crisis as the Taliban seizes Kabul.

The U.S. has spent trillions in Afghanistan stretching back 20 years, yet Biden, who has been in office for seven months and who campaigned on bringing the troops home, is being tagged as an architect for the Taliban's inevitable rise to power there.

A convenient, gaping hole in the coverage and commentary? The U.S. mission in Afghanistan was unalterably damaged when President George W. Bush hijacked that post-9/11 military mission and foolishly turned the Pentagon's time, attention, and resources to a doomed invasion of Iraq.

Much of the mainstream media cheered that utterly failed war. Battered by accusations of a liberal bias and determined to prove their conservative critics wrong, the press during the run-up to the war -- timid, deferential, unsure, cautious, and often intentionally unthinking -- came as close as possible to abdicating its reason for existing in the first place, which is to accurately inform citizens, particularly during times of great national interest.

Today the media's role in marketing the Iraq War has been flushed down the memory hole, even though Iraq should be central to any discussion about the U.S.'s running failure in Afghanistan. "Remarkably, the word "Bush" was not mentioned once on any of theSunday shows" this weekend as they focused nonstop on Afghanistan, noted Jon Allsop, at the Columbia Journalism Review.

You cannot discuss the rise of the Taliban in 2021 without talking about the U.S.'s doomed Iraq War in 2003. But the press today wants to try.

It's another example of how pro-Iraq War cheerleaders in the media not only have paid no price for being spectacularly wrong, but they're still allowed to dictate the parameters of our foreign policy discussion.

"For those of us who remember well how the mainstream media enthusiasm for war helped fuel not just this ill-advised war in Afghanistan twenty years ago, but the even bigger debacle in Iraq, the current media narrative is both bewildering and exhausting," writes Amanda Marcotte at Salon. "This larger media outrage over the withdrawal is a dark reminder of the pro-war bias in the press that helped create this mess in the first place, luring the American public into thinking a war in Afghanistan could ever end in any other way."

It's especially jarring to see the Washington Post and the New York Times lead the way this week with finger-pointing Afghanistan coverage, considering those two outlets played essential roles in supporting the Iraq invasion, which became a turning point for the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

Why a turning point? Bush drained U.S. resources by launching an unprecedented, preemptive invasion based on the lie that Saddam Hussein was sitting on a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Overnight, Afghanistan lost its focus as the U.S.'s military response to the terrorist attack on 9/11. (Under Bush, the U.S. had 10,000-20,000 troops in Afghanistan, compared to roughly 150,000 troops in Iraq during his second term. )

In truth, Bush never could have ordered the invasion of Iraq -- never could have sold the idea at home -- if it weren't for the help he received from the mainstream media, and particularly the stamp of approval he received from so-called liberal media institutions such as the Washington Post, which in February of 2003 alone editorialized in favor of war nine times.

As the Post's independent ombudsman Michael Getler later wrote, the media's performance in 2002 and 2003 likely represented their most crucial newsroom failing in nearly half a century. "How did a country on the leading edge of the information age get this so wrong and express so little skepticism and challenge?" asked Getler.

Against that backdrop of helping stage the Iraq War, it was the Post that recently admonished Biden regarding Afghanistan, claiming his "precipitous withdrawal, as well as his refusal to offer more meaningful assistance to Afghanistan's government, risks disaster."

The New York Times also raced ahead of the pack in 2002 and 2003 to cheerlead Bush's war.

"According to half a dozen sources within the Times, [executive editor Howell] Raines wanted to prove once and for all that he wasn't editing the paper in a way that betrayed his liberal beliefs," wrote Seth Mnookin in his 2004 Times expose, Hard News. Mnookin quoted Doug Frantz, the former investigative editor of the Times, who recalled that "Howell Raines was eager to have articles that supported the war-mongering out of Washington. He discouraged pieces that were at odds with the administration's position on Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction and alleged links of al-Qaeda."

The New York Observer later reported, "One senior Washington bureau staffer said that as the Bush administration edged closer to invasion, the editorial climate inside the Times shifted from questioning the rationale for military action to putting the paper on a proper war footing. 'Everyone could see the war coming. The Times wanted to be out front on the biggest story,' the staffer said. 'It became the plan of attack.'"

The United States' two-decade failure in Afghanistan is inexorably tied to Bush's catastrophic Iraq invasion. Not surprisingly, news outlets that promoted the failed war aren't anxious to address it today.

Dr. Fauci And His Enemies

Ever since the Republican Party devolved into a wholly owned subsidiary of former President Donald Trump, it is increasingly preoccupied with conspiracy theories and smear campaigns. For Trump himself, as well as such Trump operatives as Roger Stone, smears and conspiracies define their politics, rather than policy or principle. Over the past few years, unfortunately, we have become accustomed to their grimy style.

The latest target of their fantasies and defamations is Dr. Anthony Fauci, now among the most familiar faces in America as the principal presidential adviser on the coronavirus. Fauci has become someone about whom right-wing noisemakers feel free to fabricate vicious lies. They slander him incessantly because — in the course of performing his duty to the nation — he displeased their master.

You see, the renowned epidemiologist didn't think Trump was making America great when the former president suggested that we inject bleach into ourselves, or buy up hydroxychloroquine or shun masking. Fauci even dared to note that the Trump administration's horrendous mismanagement of the pandemic had led to many thousands of unnecessary deaths. Because it did.

Now these same extremists — some of whom, such as television personality Tucker Carlson, masquerade as journalists — have insinuated that Fauci is actually responsible for the virus escaping from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, where it was supposedly "engineered." This grotesque falsehood briefly gained traction when a series of Fauci's emails were disclosed by BuzzFeed — and were promptly distorted and falsified to defame him. As The Washington Post's Philip Bump demonstrated in an article dismantling Carlson's charges, the Fox fabricator didn't even try to check whether there was any factual basis for his argument.

As Bump showed, there is no evidence that Fauci misled Congress about the origins of COVID-19. Nor is there a shred of proof that he tried to suppress research into the possibility that the virus somehow escaped from the Wuhan lab — a theory that most virologists still reject, although it bears further scrutiny. Demands for transparency from the Chinese government are valid; demands to "fire Fauci" are ridiculous.

The unsubtle goal of Trump's minions is to wipe away the blood of dead Americans that is now all over him and deflect the blame elsewhere. Republicans are now echoing a true meme about their fallen idol — "Trump Lied. People Died." — and trying to stick it on Fauci. But their noise cannot exonerate Trump. History will record him as a failed president who oversaw the worst American medical catastrophe in a century.

How will history regard Anthony Fauci? Unlike Trump, born to wealth and privilege, Fauci was a Brooklyn kid who grew up in an apartment over his father's pharmacy. He earned his way through merit, whether as the diminutive captain of his college basketball team or as the eventual winner of nearly every prize and award that matters in his chosen field. Having joined the National Institutes of Health as a clinical associate as soon as he completed his medical residency, he has served this country for more than 50 years.

Fauci is a professional, not a politician. He was appointed to his current position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases during the Reagan administration and has served both Republican and Democratic presidents ever since. In that position, where he has earned the world's trust, Fauci has led the nation's defense against a series of medical challenges, including the AIDS pandemic, the Ebola threat and a series of potential pandemics including the earlier SARS, the Middle East variant, and swine flu. To the extent that we have escaped the worst consequences of living on a planet where disease spreads like wildfire, he deserves much of the credit. He is one of the scientists most often cited in medical journals.

In 2008, then-President George W. Bush — another Republican whom the right once decreed as God's anointed leader — awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Fauci. That honor was based on Fauci's direction of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, which was among the most successful government efforts in U.S. history and probably saved at least 18 million lives. Back in those days, the nation's conservative evangelicals helped persuade Bush to fund PEPFAR as a work of faith. Now, worshipping the golden calf, they disparage the man who made that program work.

Tony Fauci is a great American of no party or ideology. He would be the last to say that he has never made an error, because scientists make mistakes and learn from them. But if his dishonest critics live a thousand years, all of them together will never achieve a tiny fraction of the good he has done.

We don't need to hear any more from them.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

The Dreamers Are Still Waiting For Their Nightmare To End

In 2001, two U.S. senators introduced the DREAM Act, to let immigrants brought here without authorization as children remain in the country. Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah didn't know how fitting the name would be. Today, the idea of granting legal status to these innocents is just that — a dream.

This is legislation that both parties should be able to agree on — and, to some extent, have. It would be an act of compassion for people who have grown up to be Americans, despite the accident of their foreign birth, and become productive members of our society. It would also be a service to everyone else, by ensuring the continuation of their valuable contributions — as doctors, nurses, teachers, construction workers and more — while opening up wider opportunities for them to contribute.

The usual complaints about immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, don't apply to the people who would benefit, known as "Dreamers." They didn't choose to violate our immigration laws. The vast majority has grown up speaking English and integrating into society. The legalization would include only those who earned a high school diploma or General Education Degree, haven't committed crimes and exhibit "good moral character." MS-13 need not apply.

This change has found its way into one major immigration bill after another, including a 2006 package that had the support of President George W. Bush as well as such Republican senators as Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Sam Brownback. That year, 23 GOP senators voted for it as part of an immigration overhaul. But it has never managed to become law.

It has been in abeyance for so long that some of the children who stood to gain back in 2001 have become parents. At this point, deporting the "Dreamers" would do grave harm not only to them but to their American-born children. But the measure has stayed on the shelf, in a triumph of indifference, inertia, cruelty and political dysfunction.

In 2012, confronted with this maddening failure, Barack Obama issued an executive order shielding these immigrants from expulsion. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program granted temporary protection to some 700,000 people. Republicans denounced it as a shocking overreach by a would-be king — back before they learned to love untrammeled presidential power. They forgot Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had taken similar action to block the removal of large numbers of undocumented immigrants.

When the virulently anti-immigration Donald Trump became president, he ordered an end to DACA. But federal courts ruled against him; the program remained in effect; and this year, the Supreme Court saved it, finding that the administration failed to follow federal law in rescinding it.

For the "Dreamers," the decision was a reprieve. The next administration would like to make it permanent. Joe Biden's campaign website said: "Dreamers and their parents should have a roadmap to citizenship through legislative immigration reform. But in the meantime, Biden will remove the uncertainty for Dreamers by reinstating the DACA program, and he will explore all legal options to protect their families from inhumane separation."

DACA's opponents, however, have not given up their merciless crusade to punish the blameless. In July, acting secretary Chad Wolf ordered DHS to reject all new applications — only to be overruled by a federal court, which ordered the department to resume taking them.

On Tuesday, Texas and eight other Republican-controlled states asked a federal court in Houston to strip the "Dreamers" of their protection. That would allow their deportation to countries that, for many, are no more familiar than Antarctica.

The states supporting DACA argued that the court should bide its time until the new administration arrives and decides what to do. If the court should strike it down, Biden could unilaterally fashion a new program, which might or might not survive judicial review.

All this would have been avoided had Congress mustered the humanity to pass legislation protecting them. Trump professed "love" for the "Dreamers" and vowed to help them. But over the past four years, neither he nor his allies in Congress could bring themselves to do the right thing.

In the closing weeks of his presidency, Trump has granted clemency to all sorts of vile people who committed serious crimes. The "Dreamers," who did nothing wrong, are still waiting for their absolution.

Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.