Beyond the Classics Comic Book Version

in a hole

New York Times, Inside Trump’s Failure: The Rush to Abandon Leadership Role on the Virus. The roots of the nation’s current inability to control the pandemic can be traced to mid-April, when the White House embraced overly rosy projections to proclaim victory and move on

Both lawyers and historians know there is a classics comic book version of events—where there are no shades of gray, and 256 colors are reduced to eight or so—and then, there is a more nuanced version of what actually happened.

The classics comic book version is that Trump and his enablers had a choice between science and magical thinking—and came down definitively on the magical thinking side.

The Times presents a more nuanced version. Please read it for yourself, if interested. But I’ll summarize a key part. In the Times’s telling, there was significant conflict between Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci. I think we all know what Dr. Fauci’s views are. Dr. Birx, also a highly credentialed medical scientist, placed great emphasis on (relatively) optimistic models—models that proved erroneous, in large measure because they incorrectly assumed that the public would almost always behave sensibly, not like jerks.

Thus, in the Times’s telling, a big source of the debacle was not the Trump team’s rejection of science as such, but instead their acceptance of the wrong scientist.

Of course, Trump’s magical thinking, sociopathy, encouragement of anti-social behavior, and failure of leadership all played important roles. But, alas, he had some help from an able and dedicated scientist who was too optimistic and too interested in being in the middle of the policy making process.

And where are we in mid-July?

We are at a point whether the magical thinking and optimistic models are thoroughly discredited. A point where Trump and his cronies have well and truly dug their hole. Bigly.

And what will they do?

Probably, they will keep on digging.

Because everybody knows that, when you are in a hole, you just need to dig some more.

Dr. Fauci Would Like You to Say Ixnay to the Orseshithay

The New York Times reports,

After attacks by Trump aides, Fauci says focus should be on the virus rather than ‘games people are playing.’

As Trump administration officials have increasingly sought to undermine him in recent days, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and one of the most trusted federal officials working on the pandemic, made his most pointed remarks yet on Wednesday addressing tensions with the White House.

“I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview with The Atlantic on Wednesday. “I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it’s only reflecting negatively on them.”

He spoke as Trump administration officials have sought to undermine his credibility — first anonymously, over the weekend, and then out in the open. A short op-ed by Peter Navarro, the president’s top trade adviser, published in USA Today on Tuesday evening was headlined “Anthony Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.” Dan Scavino, the White House deputy chief of staff for communications, posted a cartoon Sunday evening mocking Dr. Fauci.

In the interview Wednesday, Dr. Fauci called the partisan environment around the virus disturbing.

“It distracts from what I hope would be the common effort of getting this thing under control, rather than this back-and-forth distraction, which just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Asked to review the government’s response to the pandemic, he said: “We’ve got to almost reset this and say, OK, let’s stop this nonsense and figure out how can we get our control over this now, and looking forward, how can we make sure that next month, we don’t have another example of California, Texas, Florida and Arizona, because those are the hot zones now, and I’m looking at the map, saying we got to make sure it doesn’t happen in other states.”

“So rather than these games people are playing,” he said. “let’s focus on that.”

As It Were

2 plus 2

The one thing that I have been saying that never came across particularly clearly in the way some people — and I’m not mentioning names — have expressed this: We are in the escalating phase of a very serious pandemic. That is a fact. We have got to realize that and to prepare and respond. It is not, as it were, under control.

Interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci