Political junkies will forever remember the line “nattering nabobs of negativism.” Former Nixon speechwriter William Safire penned those words that Vice President Spiro Agnew delivered so brilliantly in 1970. The phrase has oft been attributed as an attack on the media, but Agnew actually used it to deride politicians at the time who were overly critical of The Nixon Administration’s policies.
If one person seemingly embodies the phrase in 2021, it would have to be Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The liberal media mob continues to hold him up as a God-like figure. Conservatives, and indeed Americans in general, are fast tiring of the “don’t do this, you can’t do that, we need more time, and not yet” talk.
That Dr. Fauci is an expert in his field of epidemiology is not in dispute. His resume and experience are matched by few. But we get seriously misguided decision-making when our political leaders, in their infinite wisdom to “follow the science,” only follow some science or predominantly follow just one scientist.
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume noted two weeks ago that Fauci, who he likes, is “an expert in a narrow field” and not an expert in child psychology or education nor an authority on the U.S. economy. Hume reminded viewers that economics is a science too. His point was Fauci cannot speak to the terrible collateral damage done by the lockdowns, school closings, and missed heart or cancer screenings because the answers to those questions are behind his proficiency. Hume dubbed the lockdowns and school closings “the worst public policy decisions of my lifetime.”
It’s not that Fauci has tried to play armchair economist or the like; it’s just that he appears nearly everywhere drowning out the views of other experts in their fields. Fauci seemed to goad people the wrong way with recent statements suggesting even the vaccinated must continue playing by pandemic rules, and that normalcy was not even close at hand. In short, while he might have been the right face at certain points in 2020 to provide useful information on a virus almost no one knew a thing about, he seems to have worn out his welcome with much of the American public, a public hungry for optimism and a return to the status quo.
Not one to ever make bold statements or project much hopefulness, the ever-cautious Fauci wasn’t sure where public opinion was last summer as parents, educators, and scientists grappled with but were edging towards full school reopenings. But the American Academy of Pediatrics courageously came out and said schools should open on time in the fall of 2020, eclipsing Fauci’s equivocations. President Trump echoed what the pediatricians said.
As a former teacher, I took to social media to also encourage full in-person learning and to counteract many of my former colleagues who were saying things like, “Stay in your lane” regarding Trump. But maybe it’s Fauci who needs to stay in his lane, namely virology. It’s also incumbent on our political leaders to listen to as wide an audience of experts as possible to make the best public policy decisions. The American public is hungry now more than ever for positivity and less interested in Fauci’s negativism.
And they just got it in new CDC guidelines out March 8th stating the vaccinated can socialize with other fully vaccinated individuals indoors without wearing masks or social distancing. Further, the vaccinated can visit indoors under the same rules‚ with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe Covid-19 disease. The CDC notes the vaccinated need not quarantine or get tested if they come into contact with someone with Covid-19 and do not develop symptoms. How refreshing and optimistic some scientists can be aside from Dr. Fauci!
Jeff Szymanski works in political communications for AMAC, a senior benefits organization with 2.4 million members.
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