Trump’s difference with his subordinate should not surprise given how many times that subordinate takes issue with his earlier statements. Fauci initially advised Americans not to wear masks. Then he urged Americans to wear masks. “The flu has a mortality rate of 0.1 percent,” he told the House Oversight and Reform Committee in March. “This has a mortality rate of 10 times that.” Only this didn’t, and he could not have known then if it did. The lack of widespread testing made it impossible to know the mortality rate. In February, he called a travel ban regarding China “irrelevant.” The following month he credited it with saving lives.
This does not make Fauci an idiot or evil or anything like that. It makes him fallible. Scientists are human, not supernatural, beings. Considering the newness of what was called, after all, novel coronavirus, no one, not even someone as experienced as Dr. Fauci, could possess that crystal ball equipped to answer everything. His work on AIDS, when he stoked panic by speculating in a journal that “household” and “routine close contact” might spread the disease, should have taught him that a scientist doing speculation isn’t doing science.
Yet Fauci keeps making off-the-wall statements that, given his stature, become the basis for policy. For instance, he explained in response to a statement by Sen. Paul: “We better be very careful particularly when it comes to children.”