Opinion: Fauci reveals Rand Paul’s true motives

When Fauci began his response, emphasizing masks and vaccines for so many times, Paul interrupted, “and you have advocated for it to be coercive and done by force, and you have advocated for it to be done by mandate. “

As he rose to a high moral dudgeon, Paul resorted to sarcasm: “You have advocated that your infallible opinion be dictated by the law.”

Fauci had had enough. He put Paul’s attack into context – and the context is dark.

“I have threats on my life,” he said. “Harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.” Fauci then went into the details and they are shocked: “Just about three or four weeks ago, on December 21, a person was arrested who was on his way from Sacramento to Washington, DC at a speed stop in Iowa. And the police asked him where he was going.And he was going to Washington, DC to kill Dr. Fauci.And they found in his car an AR-15 and several magazines with ammunition because he thinks I might kill people. “

Now we know that the threat of physical violence is real. The Capitol itself was the scene of a violent and vicious attempt at rebellion on January 6, 2021. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot and severely wounded by a gunman in 2017, and rep. Gabby Giffords from Arizona got shot in the head at blank distance in 2011 by a man who murdered a federal judge and five others in the attack.

But Fauci took it a step further on Wednesday and came up with a theory behind Paul’s attack. He showed screenshots that he said were from one of Paul’s political websites, and tried to raise campaign donations from his attacks on Fauci.

Having been through more political singing and dancing than I like to remember, I think I can spot the sincerity. Fauci’s answer, I think, was genuine. It was raw. And that was fair.

Fauci is not infallible, but he is a dedicated public servant who has used his long career trying to protect Americans from disease and death. Admittedly, he deserves tough questions and even criticism where justified. But at a time when national security officials are warning that “We are facing an increased threat from violent extremists in the home,” Paul seems to have crossed a line.

The fact that Rand Paul for the Senate committee is raising money on a website called firefauci.org suggests that politics rather than public health may be part of the motivation for the younger senator from Kentucky.

The Senate has always had demagogues, liars and outliers who go too far. Fauci’s measured but heartfelt dismantling should have been a Joseph Welch moment. Welch was a lawyer for the U.S. Army when the infamous Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin spread hysterical accusations that Communists had infiltrated the Army, along with the State Department, the Treasury Department and even the White House.
When McCarthy challenged a young lawyer from Welch’s firm, the soft, bespectacled Welch could not hold it any longer. “Until this moment, Senator,” he said, “I think I never really measured your cruelty or your ruthlessness.” McCarthy was stunned to silence as Welch continued, “Do you have no sense of decency?”
Welch’s response broke the fever. Six months later, McCarthy was formal censored of his Senate colleagues 67-22. Half of the Republicans in the Senate voted to condemn their fellow Republicans.
Not now. Paul’s quarrel against Fauci provoked a strong and immediate condemnation from Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut. “Thank you, first of all, for what you do,” he said said. “You should not have to risk your life … And thank you for calling this agenda what it is: an attempt to score political points, to build a political power base around the denial of science and around personal attacks. on you and your family. “

But where was the GOP’s condemnation of Paul? Almost non-existent.

To his credit, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah defended Fauci. “Some of what we do [in these hearings] appears, “he said, in an apparent reference to Paul’s attack. “And part of what we do is be informed.”

He went on to emphasize his appreciation of Fauci and the other scientists who testified. “I would like to point out how much I personally, and I believe that the vast majority of the people of our country respect you individually and professionally for the work you do. You are scientists, not politicians. Nevertheless, you become made subject to the political whims of various political individuals, and it has a high price. ”

Two cheers to Romney for defending Fauci and for branding the attacks on him as political. But I wish he had followed up and condemned his GOP colleague, as Republicans condemned McCarthy decades ago. Perhaps it is too much to demand in these hyperpartial times.

Perhaps Romney has judged that condemning Paul could have the opposite effect of mistrust of McCarthy; that if he were to condemn Paul, the result would be a diminution of Romney’s political strength within the Trumpified GOP, while at the same time strengthening Paul even more.

It’s a depressing thought, but probably accurate. As long as there is money to be made, clicks to be made, votes to be won, we can expect power-hungry politicians to perform, even during a deadly pandemic. It seems that political decency is not as contagious as Omicron.

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