He has his own style

Fauci spoke to ScienceInsider yesterday.

Anthony Fauci, who to many watching the now-regular White House press briefings on the pandemic has become the scientific voice of reason about how to respond to the new coronavirus, runs from place to place in normal times and works long hours. Now the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has even less time to sleep and travels at warp speed, typically racing daily from his office north of Washington D.C. to his home in the capital, and then to the White House to gather with the Coronavirus Task Force in the Situation Room. He then usually flanks President Donald Trump addressing the media–and when he isn’t there, concerned tweets begin immediately. Shortly before he planned to head to the White House for a task force meeting today, he phoned ScienceInsider for a speedy chat.

The first question was how is he. He’s wiped but otherwise ok. Neither infected nor fired as far as he knows.

How is he managing the not fired part?

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.

Yes, he does go his own way, he does have his own style, and…he shouldn’t. His own way and his own style are anti-scientific, anti-thoughtful, anti-careful, anti-reasonable, anti-responsible – they deviate from every quality we need in an emergency. What we need from Trump for a change is a whole lot of conformity. We need him to find out what the norms are and then act according to them. We don’t need a freelance insult comic for this job.

And it’s nice that he listens to Fauci, I suppose, but since he still then goes his own heedless murderous way, it’s not much help.

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]. He keeps people out of the room–as soon as the room gets like more than 10 people or so, it’s ‘Out, everybody else out, go to a different room.’ So with regard to the task force, the Vice President is really a bear in making sure that we don’t crowd 30 people into the Situation Room, which is always crowded. So he’s definitely adhering to that. The situation on stage [for the press briefings] is a bit more problematic. I keep saying, is there any way we can get a virtual press conference. Thus far, no. But when you’re dealing with the White House, sometimes you have to say things 1,2,3,4 times, and then it happens. So I’m going to keep pushing.

When you’re dealing with this White House you have to say things a hundred times before anyone listens. It’s not normal, it’s just this White House.

Q: What happens before each press conference? What do you do as a group?

A: We’re in the task force. We sit down for an hour and a half, go over all the issues on the agenda. And then we proceed from there to an ante room right in front of the Oval Office to talk about what are going to be the messages, what are the kind of things we’re going to want to emphasize? Then we go in to see the president, we present [our consensus] to him and somebody writes a speech. Then he gets up and ad libs on his speech. And then we’re up there to try and answer questions.

While Trump is up there to lie and brag and pick fights.

[Updating to stipulate: I’m not criticizing Fauci here, just reminding myself and others of the truth about Trump.]

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