The overexposed Anthony Fauci

Dr. Fauci indicates that he hated being criticized by far-right crazies for wanting to be a celebrity, because of a photo shoot he did last year — one of many. The profile writer assures us that “he has not had a single day off in 18 months and is exhausted.” Still and all, he’s collecting his notes for a memoir — a seven-figure contract surely in the bag — and he participated in this documentary, in which every critical word about him is uttered by someone spitting and identified as an unsympathetic crazy person. He admits that he does have a good nose for politics: “You’ve got to know what battles to fight, what battles not to fight,” he says, reflecting on his intelligence.

The one criticism allowed to slip through is a reference to his initial flip-flop on masks. But, even more recently, Dr. Fauci seems to be slipping up more and more. A few weeks ago, he was asked to comment on the video footage of packed southern college football stadiums. “I don’t think it’s smart,” he said. And yet, despite the dawn of football season and the southern states being uninterested in reimposing mask mandates, the Delta wave is collapsing in them? Fauci can read a chart like anyone else and has surely figured out that non-pharmaceutical interventions such as mask mandates make no substantive difference in the seasonal and regional waves of COVID. Surely he’s also noticed that every time someone predicts imminent doom from an outdoor gathering — especially one as unappealing to progressives as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally — nothing much happens. The expected revenge of cruel COVID on outdoor conservatives never comes. Then again, maybe this is just a case of knowing which battles to fight.