Open your calendar app and mark the date: Feb. 22, 2021. That’s when “The View” co-host Meghan McCain finally realized that maybe Dr. Anthony Fauci, sainted head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nation’s top epidemiologist, has gone overboard in how long he expects Americans to live as bubble boys.
And yet, despite the fact she played the game for a good year-and-change, Twitter is now playing Burn the Heretic with the token conservative on the ABC panel show.
On Monday, McCain savaged Fauci for “inconsistent messaging” about the coronavirus and when things could get back to normal, even with a vaccine.
The widely circulated clip came as the panel responded to Fauci’s Sunday interview with CNN’s Dana Bash in which he refused to say people who had received the vaccine could go back to seeing their grandkids.
“There will be recommendations coming out. I don’t want to be making a recommendation now on public TV,” Fauci said.
For McCain, Fauci wasn’t providing a clear post-vaccination plan for Americans who’d already received the shot and wanted to resume a regular life.
“So I was very frustrated when I saw this clip. … Next week will be a year since we left studio, and I have been very responsible in many different ways, as so many Americans have been,” McCain said. “And the fact that Dr. Fauci is going on CNN and he can’t tell me that if I get the vaccine, if I’ll be able to have dinner with my family or dinner with, I mean, I don’t have any grandparents left, but you know, older people, if I can go to dinner at friends’ houses who are older — it’s terribly inconsistent messaging, and it continues to be inconsistent messaging.
“In Israel, in Tel Aviv, one of the messages that they have, I saw a sign that said, ‘Get a shot, take a shot.’ Meaning, if I get the vaccine, then I can go out and I can have shots with my friends. Is the science in Israel different than the science in the United States of America?”
She said the push for vaccinations has been undercut by the message that “I can get vaccinated and I won’t be able to see friends and nothing in life changes and that we’re going to have to wear masks forever.”
McCain also took issue with the lack of clear guidance on when Americans could get the vaccine.
“The fact that I, Meghan McCain, co-host of ‘The View,’ I don’t know when or how I will be able to get a vaccine because the rollout for my age range and my health is so nebulous, I have no idea when and how I get it. … This rollout has been a disaster.”
“I’m over Dr. Fauci,” she said. “I think we need to have more people giving more opinions, and honestly, quite frankly, I think the Biden administration should remove him and put someone else in place that maybe does understand science or can talk to other countries about how we can be more like these places that are doing this successfully.”
McCain was naturally attacked on Twitter — not over the substance of her argument, mind you, but the part about how she, “Meghan McCain, co-host of ‘The View,'” didn’t know when she would get the shot.
Meghan McCain said “The fact that I, Meghan McCain, co-host of the View, don’t know when or how I will be able to get a vaccine” and then called on Dr. Fauci to be fired because of this is tone-deaf.
I got a better idea. @ABC, fire McCain for her bratty sense of entitlement.
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) February 22, 2021
Meghan McCain yelling about the vaccine pic.twitter.com/c2xWmutH7M
— Frank Murdocco (@FrankMurdocco) February 22, 2021
My hot take is that we need more celebrities to loudly complain about wanting to get the vaccine, and a few of them should try to jump the queue. https://t.co/7Lw2g3h2mp
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) February 22, 2021
It’s interesting to see the same cohort who’ll countenance — nay, vigorously defend — a verbal gaffe or 317 from President Joe Biden trot out the Veruca Salt images and call for McCain’s firing when she words something in a way that sounds a bit too much like, “Do you know who I am?”
Also interesting: Few addressed the point.
Not only does the vaccine show significant efficacy in preventing COVID-19 cases thus far, but preliminary data shows it also cuts down transmission rates dramatically — even with one dose. McCain brought up the example of Israel, which has been able to cut down transmission substantially by a quick and effective rollout (albeit in a small country).
And yes, if Fauci were to hedge his bets so that people didn’t get ahead of themselves or let their guard down, that would be understandable. The problem is that Fauci’s penchant for doom-laden overcautiousness would be self-parodying if it didn’t involve the least funny subject on the face of the planet — and the insinuation is that if you don’t follow these suggestions, you very well may die.
In April 2020 — two months into the pandemic proper — Fauci said one of the legacies of COVID-19 should be to consign our traditional greetings to the ash-heap of history.
“I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you,” he said in an interview. “Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease, it probably would decrease instances of influenza dramatically in this country.”
Well, why not don dental hygienist-style eye shields and goggles to be on the safe side during COVID times?
No, seriously, why not? This isn’t sarcasm; Fauci floated the idea just last August.
“If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it,” he said during an Instagram Live chat.
“You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye,” Fauci added.
“Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield you should use it.”
And if you like your mask, you can keep your mask — until 2022 at least, Fauci said.
Despite the fact he believes there’ll be enough vaccine for every American by July, the most visible face of our coronavirus response told Bash that whether we’ll be covering our faces until next year “depends on the level of dynamics of virus that’s in the community.”
This was the same interview, if you’re keeping track, in which he punted on answering whether people with the vaccine could resume normal life and see their grandchildren.
It’s not Anthony Fauci’s job to get our hopes up, but as the Voice of Science™ in the federal government’s coronavirus response, it would also help if he weren’t Dr. Eeyore, MD.
It’s profoundly counterproductive to make exigent demands on every American and then expect them to comply for two years (in the case of masks) or in perpetuity (in the case of handshakes).
We can debate whether he should go based on scientific matters. On the issue of messaging, he should have been out long ago.
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