In the U.S., government is the activity of the political establishment Politics is not the only establishment. Dr. Fauci is a member of the scientific establishment.
The start of The Enlightenment is marked by some as the year 1637 with René Descartes’ Discourse on the Method. Thus begins the genesis of modern thought, and the growth of these establishments towards the forms they have today. Descartes wrote Cogito, ergo sum, I think, therefore I am. With this single sentence, he freed the human mind from the bondage of belief.
If you value freedom of thought, if you are engaged with the scientific method, you are a spiritual heir of René Descartes. If you prefer to follow or believe, your roots are elsewhere. Dr. Fauci, as a research physician in the modern mold, is one of Descartes’ heirs.
- In politics, people are the problems and also the solutions, more so than even ideas. People are the currency of politics. Organizational charts take on the illusion of fundamental reality.
- In science, personalities hardly count. What counts is a kind of naked truth never found in politics, which would be a lie if it did. Such were the lies of fascism and communism.
- The two establishments tolerate each other from mutual need. Science values truth and needs money. Politics can’t sell truth to voters; it needs deliverables.
- Politics tends to look at science as a label for job programs.
- When “technocrats”, meaning scientific types, have attempted to apply science to problems of government, the results have been mediocre or worse.
Since the U.S. response to COVID-19 became a mess, it is natural for politicians to think of it as a people problem. It would be a mistake to think of it this way. Everybody who has said anything about COVID has been wrong. This does not imply universal incompetence.
Blame the virus. In all their years of planning, nobody in the whole wide world planned for a pathogen with the COVID characteristics of:
Never was it imagined that one bug could combine the three. There are sound scientific reasons for this, which we will explore with the Astrodome experiments: COVID Resurgent: Of Hares and Foxes; Primer for Policy Makers, Part 3. Had COVID been Ebola, a different combination of contagious and deadly, the public health systems would have been less stressed. Shortcomings in response would have been noted as glitches, not catastrophes.
Blame epidemiology the subject, long on retrospection and short on predictions for novel pathogens. It lacks the mathematical tools for modeling all but the most simple scenarios. If it is possible to develop better models, it will require individuals who have looked at a lot of data for a very long time. Besides impersonal data, clinical experience is key.
COVID has outrun the competencies of epidemiology. To advance the competencies requires the best and most prepared minds. Louis Pasteur, one of the fathers of epidemiology, said, “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”
Dr. Fauci has been working at NIH for 52 years, with many achievements of distinction. He is a rightful heir to “Cogito, ergo sum “. That’s preparation.