No man is indispensable. Hard to replace in the short term? Perhaps. But in wartime undermining the commander-in-chief to the media can be a firing offense. Gen. MacArthur learned that lesson when President Truman fired him. So did Gen. McChrystal when President Obama fired him. The nation is now on a war footing to fight the COVID-19 Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
While he is a civilian, Hillary Clinton fanboy Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH since 1984, is heading down the path of those who show-up the boss in a time of crisis.
Last week Fauci was seen failing to suppress laughing behind President Trump’s back as he spoke at the daily coronavirus task force press briefing.
Video clip from Friday:
On Sunday a phone interview with Fauci was published by Science Mag in which he undermined Trump and presented himself as the smartest guy in the room. The questions were of the ‘just between you and me’ type between members of the anti-Trump Resistance and unlike in his broadcast interviews, Fauci let his mask slip a little. Excerpts:
…Q: How are you managing to not get fired?
A: Well, that’s pretty interesting because to his [President Trump’s] credit, even though we disagree on some things, he listens. He goes his own way. He has his own style. But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say.
Q: You’ve been in press conferences where things are happening that you disagree with, is that fair to say?
A: Well, I don’t disagree in the substance. It is expressed in a way that I would not express it, because it could lead to some misunderstanding about what the facts are about a given subject.
Q. You stood nearby while President Trump was in the Rose Garden shaking hands with people. You’re a doctor. You must have had a reaction like, Sir, please don’t do that.
A: Yes, I say that to the task force. I say that to the staff. We should not be doing that. Not only that–we should be physically separating a bit more on those press conferences. To his credit, the Vice President [Mike Pence] is really pushing for physical separation of the task force [during meetings]…
…Q: What about the travel restrictions? President Trump keeps saying that the travel ban for China, which began 2 February, had a big impact [on slowing the spread of the virus to the United States] and that he wishes China would have told us three to four months earlier and that they were “very secretive.” [China did not immediately reveal the discovery of a new coronavirus in late December, but by 10 January, Chinese researchers made the sequence of the virus public.] It just doesn’t comport with facts.
A: I know, but what do you want me to do? I mean, seriously Jon, let’s get real, what do you want me to do?
Q: Most everyone thinks that you’re doing a remarkable job, but you’re standing there as the representative of truth and facts but things are being said that aren’t true and aren’t factual.
A: The way it happened is that after he made that statement [suggesting China could have revealed the discovery of a new coronavirus three to four months earlier], I told the appropriate people, it doesn’t comport, because two or three months earlier would have been September. The next time they sit down with him and talk about what he’s going to say, they will say, by the way, Mr. President, be careful about this and don’t say that. But I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let’s try and get it corrected for the next time.
Q: You have not said China virus. [Trump frequently calls the cause of the spreading illness, known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a “China virus” or a “Chinese virus.”]
Q. And you never will, will you?
…Q: At Friday’s press conference, you put your hands over your face when President Trump referred to the “deep State Department,” [a popular conspiracy theory]. It’s even become an internet meme. Have you been criticized for what you did?
A: No comment.
this quiet exchange between the two health experts … pic.twitter.com/FO4rbzuCs3
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) March 20, 2020
This is how the media reacted to President Obama firing Gen. McChrystal. Noah Shachtman in Wired wrote:
Why Obama Had to Fire McChrystal
In the end, it was Obama’s only move. Keeping General Stanley McChrystal in place would have shattered the chain of command, obliterated the authority Obama had with the military, and undermined any hope of waging a successful counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.
“As difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe it’s the right one,” the President just said. “The conduct represented in the recently-published article … undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that’s necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.”
No general could’ve taken Obama seriously, after getting dissed so publicly by McChrystal’s crew. No captain or sergeant could’ve been expected to shut up and salute when his superior officer gave an order. The guy at the top didn’t respect his commander; why should he?
Truman on firing MacArthur (via Politico)
“In a 1973 article in Time magazine, Truman was quoted as having said, off the record, in the early 1960s: “I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the president. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.”
Gushing Dr. Fauci e-mail letters to Hillary Clinton
President Trump has given great leeway to career government scientists to speak their minds in this crisis. A lack of respect and undermining him in a time of war can be a firing offense. As the quote attributed to Charles de Gaulle says, the graveyards are filled with indispensable men.