Background for Trump’s remarkable pivot to a pro-mask stance. First, here’s a report from the right-leaning Forbes, last week.
One possible reason for Trump’s continued public embrace of Fauci–even as he shirks his advice behind the scenes–is Fauci’s popularity: an Economist/YouGov poll released Wednesday showed 55% of voters surveyed have a favorable view of Fauci compared to 25% who have an unfavorable view.
Those sky-high numbers are reflected in other polls released Wednesday, like a Morning Consult/Politico poll in which 62% of voters surveyed rate Fauci’s handling of the virus as excellent or good while 29% rate it fair or poor, and a Global Strategy Group/GBAO poll which shows Fauci trusted on school reopening by a 40 point margin.
Trump fares poorly by comparison: he is underwater on Covid-19 by 16 points in the YouGov/Economist poll, 23 points in the Morning Consult/Politico poll and 30 points in the GSG/GBAO poll.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed that 65% of voters trust information on coronavirus provided by Fauci compared to 26% who don’t, while 67% distrust coronavirus information from Trump.
Note that Forbes didn’t conduct those polls; it’s simply reporting them. Certainly it would be possible to find other recent polls that tell a different story, but this is the narrative that this center-right publication chose for its focus.
The staunchly conservative National Review last week pushed back against the anti-Fauci talking points being circulated by the White House:
All in all, the assault on Fauci is a sideshow that distracts from the very real question of how states should proceed as COVID-19 spreads in new places, as the economy continues to limp, and as the public tires of endless COVID-19 restrictions. Fauci himself has acknowledged that his role is to assess the public-health side of the equation, not to evaluate the many tradeoffs that lockdowns pose. As director of NIAID, he is best understood not as a cable-television personality but as the leader of the public research enterprise that is developing treatment and vaccine protocols to fight the virus. Assuming he has no intention of going anywhere, he should continue to do that to the best of his ability, whether it annoys the president or not.
As for Trump, one reason that his ratings are so low on the handling of COVID-19 is that he has been unwilling, with exceptions at times, to frankly acknowledge the seriousness of the virus. Warring with Anthony Fauci over the scientist’s sincere judgments about our policy failures and the continued threat of the virus is just another way of avoiding the matter at hand — namely the resurgence in cases that puts at risk the partial reopenings in much of the country.
In this regard, the president needs to heal himself, not his physician.