Fauci is a cable-news star first and a scientist second

Last week, our Hippocratic high priest got into a heated tiff with Sen. Rand Paul, a fellow doctor who was puzzled that Fauci was wearing a mask at their congressional hearing. Paul pointed out that Fauci had been fully vaccinated. ‘You want to get rid of vaccine hesitancy?’ Paul said. ‘Tell them you can quit wearing your mask after they get the vaccine.’ Fauci disagreed, saying that even vaccination may not be enough of a hedge against COVID. Previously Fauci had surmised we might all still be masking up in 2022, thanks to new variants of the coronavirus that were spreading more easily and may be deadlier.

That’s a lot of ‘mights’ and ‘mays’, the likes of which regularly pepper Fauci’s commentary, and which often blend seamlessly into ‘absolutelys’ and ‘totallys’, pronouncements of certainty. The problem is that the certainties keep proving wrong. Two months ago, after nearly a year of berating Americans to wear a mask, Fauci emerged to declare that actually they might have been incorrect about the number of masks. The revised rule was the same as the one for gin martinis: always more than one but fewer than three. Quoth one of the highest paid medical officials in the land: ‘If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective.’

Well, yes. And it’s also true that if you have two layers on, you’d be even safer with dodecahedral gas masks.