The right-wing media and GOP love nothing more than having a strawman to beat up on as they frame elections as a battle between “real Americans,” and fear of the other.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is the latest in a long-line of right-wing bogeymen, but has a unique career path compared to the most recent prior ones.
A career public servant, Fauci in all likelihood sacrificed making much more money in the private sector. He did this with a sense of duty to serve his nation ably over a half century. But despite this noble service, and irrespective of what you may think of him through the years, he has today become the biggest lightning-rod in the country to those holding court on the right – be they conservative media, talk radio, right-wing website or elected officials like Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis.
Science particularly when it comes to a new virus changes rapidly. One must be pragmatic in such a fluid situation – but today’s right-wing ecosystem demands a type of ideological rigidity when judging others, even though their own ideology is a mishmash of left wing economic ideas (like heavy subsidies, isolationism and protectionism) and hard-right cultural stands on issues like guns and reproductive rights among other things.
The GOP has for the last fifty years always had a scary bogeyman or woman they link Democratic candidates to. The list reads Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Howard Metzenbaum, Jesse Jackson, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and most recently Kamala Harris. But now someone who isn’t a politician or elected official at all now seems to be the number one target of the right’s incessant whining and campaign apparatus – Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci’s desire though this pandemic has been steer this nation toward being able to mitigate the continued spread of the virus – and he has found opposition from the GOP at every turn when it comes to mitigation efforts like masks, social distancing and vaccinations. Whatever you may think of his persona, the idea that Fauci is some sort of cynical, political operator is total madness.
Yet day in and day out we get attacks from the right on Fauci. The most notable recent attack was by former CBS correspondent Lara Loga of disgraced Benghazi fame, who now is comparing Dr. Fauci to a Nazi doctor. The sort of attack we saw from Logan on Fox News has been part for the course in terms of attacks on Dr. Fauci over the last year.
This is just the latest in a laundry list of below-the-belt, daily attacks by the right on someone who has never run for public office and who has spent the vast majority of his life behind the scenes working to help Americans.
This goes back to a premise we will pursue further on this site in the coming days about how conservatives and right-wing media despite claiming to be “pro-American” and wanting to “Make America Great Again,” aggressively champion the rights of any individual or vocal belligerent minority to hijack not only the will of the majority but the common good which moves America forward. The right in 2021 is in fact anti-American, if we view the United States as a collective of people’s and see it as our obligation as citizens to help thy neighbor.
Governor Ron DeSantis, who is now the defacto leader of the national GOP and his acolytes, have every right to go after President Joe Biden or any elected Democrat on policy matters. In fact, I am of the belief elected officials are fair game unlike private citizens or those who are career public servants working for Government. But the attacks on Dr. Fauci represent a new leap for a GOP that is obsessive about the “deep state” a term that David Frum claimed in his recent book Trumpapocalypse actually originated with the Islamist, pro-Erdogan faction in Turkey (hmmm…).
Here in Florida, Governor DeSantis has proudly sold anti-Fauci merchandise in his PAC’s shop while standing by idly at press conferences while vaccine denial and misrepresentation takes place.
It speaks volumes about today’s Republican Party that a public servant that has never stood for elective office and whose life has been dedicated to protecting Americans from infectious diseases would now be the ultimate GOP bogeyman. Fauci has since 1968, served our country as a medical professional working in government, developing an expertise and dedication to public service few in the modern United States can boast- and that threatens today’s grifters and those whose motivation is to demagogue and to promote conspiracy theories and undermine science.
The current right-wing media ecosystem and Republican Party is based largely around personality-cults, demagoguery about the “deep state,” rejection of science and fear of the other – so a figure like Dr. Fauci represents the perfect bogeyman for them. It’s pathetic, sad and dangerous as Americans continue to lose their lives every day thanks to COVID-19.