Home Coronavirus Pandemic OPINION: The Trump and Fauci feud shines a negative light on the Trump administration

OPINION: The Trump and Fauci feud shines a negative light on the Trump administration

7 min read

Justin Thompson, a senior studying journalism, argues that the tension between President Trump and Anthony Fauci will not win the favor of undecided voters and shows how desperate the Trump administration has become.

Please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political.

As much as President Trump might try to dismiss it, the nation is still in the middle of a pandemic. Yet, he just cannot seem to play nice with the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, who should presumably be his biggest ally in the fight against the coronavirus. 

In a recent tweet, he ripped a quote from Fauci out of one context and dropped it into another that is politically convenient for him. Fauci’s original quote praised, broadly, the many federal health care workers who have helped to combat the coronavirus. 

“I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more,” Fauci said in the clip.

But when the quote resurfaced in a Trump campaign ad that aired in Michigan — where polls show he is lagging — it sounded like Fauci was praising the president individually. 

Soon thereafter, Fauci pressed the Trump campaign to take down the ad. 

“In my nearly five decades of public service,” Fauci said, “I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate.” 

But the Trump campaign, digging its heels in, refused to remove the ad. 

It is no surprise that Fauci’s request fell on deaf ears. The dynamic between the two has been evident for months: Fauci urged mask use, while Trump downplayed their effectiveness; Fauci warned against crowded events, while Trump hosted one, and another, and another

They are supposed to be on the same team, sharing a common goal. But Trump has made it clear from the very start that he does not see it that way. 

The president stooped even lower this time, though. He did not just flout the rules or push misinformation that is expected from him. He attacked Fauci personally by twisting his words and attempting to harm his credibility.

Fauci went on CNN on Monday night to clarify his position, saying that it would be “outrageous” for the Trump administration to take his words out of context again and that the whole escapade “might actually come back to backfire on them.”

In a separate interview with Shepard Smith on CNBC, he added that no matter who wins this November’s election, he plans to remain in his role as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a position he has held for 36 years.

“I’m not going to walk away from this outbreak no matter who’s the president,” he said.

The optics of the feud are terrible for Trump. Raising the ire of the nation’s most respected voice on the coronavirus is a bad look to undecided voters, but the implications are far worse. The nation as a whole cannot combat the virus to the fullest extent if its chief decision-maker cannot get along with his health experts.

Some hoped that contracting the virus himself would change how Trump approached his pandemic response. Like the Grinch’s heart growing three sizes, optimists thought that Trump would employ more compassion and transparency in addressing the virus and the many Americans who have succumbed to it.  

But his feud with Fauci proves that Trump is not going to change his tone any time soon. He intends to remain dismissive and dishonest about every facet of the coronavirus crisis until the end. 

With election day looming, Trump putting Fauci’s words into the spin cycle looks less like a political maneuver and more like a desperate campaign to spread misinformation by a candidate in free-fall. 

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