This was reported over the weekend but I wanted to weigh in because Dr. Deborah Birx deserves no credit and lots of blame. Birx went on CNN and whined a bit:
“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread,” Birx told CNN in August. “It’s into the rural as equal urban areas.”
Birx said the interview she did with CNN in August prompted “horrible pushback” from the Trump administration.
“That was a very difficult time, because everybody in the White House was upset with that interview and the clarity that I brought about the epidemic,” Birx said in her interview set to air on CNN Sunday night.
Birx added that Trump called her after her CNN interview in August, and that the phone call itself was “very uncomfortable, very direct and very difficult to hear.”
You know what’s uncomfortable? Choking in your own lung secretions as you die of COVID. The Post did a good job on the same news:
Birx, who headed the White House’s efforts to combat the coronavirus throughout that period, has been criticized for not speaking more frequently and more forcefully against Trump. Last March, Birx praised Trump for being “so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data” with regards to the outbreak. […]
As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump reported, Birx had presented overly optimistic data several times […]
Birx also sat quietly at a news conference last April when Trump pondered whether people could be injected with disinfectant to “knock out” the coronavirus. […]
“The malicious incompetence that resulted in hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths starts at the top, with the former President and his enablers,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted. “And who was one of his enablers? Dr. Birx, who was afraid to challenge his unscientific rhetoric and wrongfully praised him.”
Birx thought she could finesse Trump with a little strategic ass kissing. Perhaps some of her motivation was good, but at some point professionals quit when they’re being used to promulgate lies and deception. Birx didn’t, and her reputation should never be allowed to recover, even a little bit.
I don’t blame her terribly for her initial praise of Trump – I think there’s some similar verbiage from Fauci. We know for a fact that Trump punished and went after people who didn’t give him outlandish praise, and most of what she said initially was that he was attentive to the news – which is a lie, but also isn’t particularly praiseworthy. This was the price you paid to be involved in the administration at all.
I do blame her for repeatedly emphasizing the rosiest scenarios and trying to help Trump’s re-election prospects at the expense of the nation’s response. I’m glad she’s getting appropriately slammed for her antics.
The way she just sat there when trump** talked about injecting disinfectant has forever disqualified her from whatever respect doctors automatically get just by their degree. She didn’t utter a single word in disagreement although she knew what he was suggesting would kill people.
After Variety: Birx Lurx, Shirx Worx.
Hey, not drawing the line someplace – anyplace – is what helped keep trumpov rolling right along to the GQP nomination. It was a cautionary tale for anyone with eyes to see. Sorry Birxsie, but you let the lies slide and never stood up to the orange moron, and so now you can have 400k dead people come visit you every night.
In other news, I see Matt Gaetz is considering leaving Congress for a job with Newsmax. It’ll make better use of his skill set.
Everything Trump touches dies, part the infinity.
@Jeffro: Seriously? Dumb move if so. Gaetz’s corrupt asshole father got him his current job, which is in such a deep red district he’ll likely have it for life. The Newsmax thing seems much less secure.
Four Seasons Total Landscaping mistermix
He wants to spend more time with his son.
Fuck that beyotch. No mercy, no forgiveness. She let hundreds of thousands die to keep her shitty political job sucking up to a giant orange blob of shit. Fuck her.
I’m afraid I disagree. She went well beyond that:
“He’s been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data. I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit during these discussions about medical issues.”
She should have to regret that every day, given that lives were on the line.
And was in-fucking-sane!
Dump: Uhhhhh tremendous bigly drink bleach and shove a lightbulb up your butt!
I am sure that Dr Birx is a lovely person, and in the past she has done excellent work around HIV, but she had her blinders on, and fooled herself into thinking that she could mold the Trump response to the pandemic to be kinder and gentler.
In trying to do so, she got her ass handed to her by Trump, Jarred, Dr Scott, and the rest of the rest of the malign administration. I don’t believe that she was actively involved in making things worse, but she sure as hell didn’t use her position appropriately to push back against her malignant boss.
@geg6: not a fan, I gather.
Fauci threaded the needle, and Birx didn’t.
I’ve had issues in which I’ve wondered if I should have called someone out for misleading statements, but never with the potential consequences they were dealing with.
I’ve mentally replayed that press conference in which Trump recommended internal use of disinfectant to try to figure out what I would have done. I’m sure it was a surprise, which would have slowed anyone’s reactions. You just don’t expect to hear anything that dumb.
Then there’s the calculation of whether to jump up right then or deal with it in another way. Birx had been doing those calculations all along, so she must have figured that silence then was the better choice.
It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if she had said something right then and there. Trump would have been angry. Would he have responded then or later?
It could have been a moment to help discount him and his flaky ideas about the pandemic. It was much weaker than it could have been.
@stacib: THIS She is as responsible as trump is.
@geg6: I am all in on Team geg6 on Brix!
I think you have to consider the possibility that she was a Trump voter, atleast in 2016. I don’t know why one should assume other reasons.
@RandomMonster: Yeah, that was not exactly a moment of unguarded candor.
@RandomMonster: Yes, that idiotic statement was the point where she poured gasoline on her credibility and lit it on fire. This was well before injecting bleach. Anyone who believed TFG was “attentive to the scientific literature” is either in deep denial, utterly without a clue, or a shameless ass kisser and therefore unfit to be a key leader in a time of crisis.
@Cheryl Rofer: I can understand being surprised and not forming a good live response. But were I her, I would have to have issued some kind of statement or correction immediately afterwards.
@stacib: Yup. Contrast that to the press conference with Rumsfeld and General Pace, where Rumsfeld said something like, “if American troops see a war crime being committed they’ll report it” and Pace interjected to say, “no, they’ll act to prevent it”.
Regarding Dr. Birx, I think at first she and Dr. Fauci were playing good cop-bad cop with Trump, and it got out of hand. Then, when Fauci was sidelined, I think Birx told herself her participation in the COVID response was so critical that she had to appease Trump to remain on the team. But of course, you can’t appease a psychopath, as she learned.
I am not making excuses for Birx — she fucked up and deserves the blowback. But I suspect that’s the explanation. I am glad she said what she said about every death after the initial surge being possibly preventable. I hope to Christ there’s a plan for an investigation into what went wrong and how to stop something like that from ever happening again.
The simple answer is never elect another fucking Republican, ever. But since that’s not likely, we need safeguards in case some future GOP psycho is in charge during a pandemic. I don’t know what it would look like, but I hope that’s one area of the executive branch we can childproof. Also, maybe it’s time to stop letting presidents have sole authority to launch nukes.
@Cheryl Rofer: You could see the discomfort on her face at the “inject bleach” presser but then she said nothing at all afterwards.
She’s probably wondering why Fauci gets a pass for his early statements complimenting TFG and she doesn’t because she genuinely doesn’t see the difference in their overall approaches.
Maybe he knows something you don’t about his prospects, e.g. that something personally damaging is going to come out soon. Either that or the money is really good and he’s too stupid to figure out how to profit from his job in Congress beyond using it to get a sinecure.
I accepted her strategy up until the bleach/UV light fiasco. After that, she just looked like a toady who had convinced herself of her irreplaceability. I think Fauci threaded the needle better, and was also in a role where he could do that with a little less risk. I’m also mindful that men and women are, even in me perhaps unconsciously, judged differently, so I do want to tread just a bit lightly.
But overall, the strategy of resignation to save yourself and point to the gross mishandlings of the Trump Admin was an underutilized one.
The Moar You Know
She and her fucking worthless piece of shit former orange boss should be hauled up before a war crimes tribunal on charges of genocide against the American people.
Never been more serious in my life. By her own claim, she let 400,000 plus people die and did and said nothing.
I’m there with Fauci too, for that matter. There’s a time for finesse and a time for laying down the truth, and he never did the latter until Trump was out of office. If 400,000 dead people isn’t your bright line, what is?
I suspect Birx is the sort with a huge ego, and decided the country simply could not survive without her in her job, so therefore she had to suck up to TFG in order to keep it. She debased herself for us, can’t you peasants see that? s//
What skill set?
Seems to me his only skill is being a douchebag. He is good at that.
@geg6: fuck her and her Hermès scarves. We’ve all had to make ethical choices in life. She chose poorly and other people suffered for it.
We keep hearing that Trump yells at anyone who disagrees with him. The thing I can’t figure out is why they are all so scared of getting yelled at. It’s not like he could have them executed if he gets mad at them.
@Betty Cracker: we really should nuke the party from orbit, but so many Americans are a combination of stupid and greedy…
Mike in NC
Birx needs to lose her medical license and just go into hiding.
It’s a big club, I’m not proud but I am a member. Actually pride has nothing to do with it.
This. old salary times 5 is pretty tempting.
Exactly. Orange shitstain is gonna throw a widdle trantum. Boo hoo. Are you done yet, you dumb, orange dipshit?
@Betty Cracker: “her participation in the COVID response”? What “participation” would that be? Fluffing Trump and staying silent when he told people to try bleach or insisted people take a Lupus drug for which there was no proof of effectiveness but has dangerous side effects and created a shortage for Lupus patients? That “participation”? Yeah, nah.
J R in WV
When I get angry, I sometimes rant too much.
Suffice it to say Dr Brix deserves to lose her medical license for the wanton malpractice she indulged in with TFG. I hope prosecution of Jarvanka and TFG is possible and fruitful.
That is all.
James fucking Comey
Brix could have screamed back into the telephone. She could’ve asked him how many americans he was willing to have die on his watch and then told him the date that number would be reached. Then she could have resigned and publicly disclose her conversation. She didn’t. She wants absolution without contrition. She deserves scorn and shunning – at best.
I’d pay to scream at the orange faced idiot.
I think a big part of it was that Fauci was in position to ignore Trump in a way Birx wasn’t. He had civil service protection and strong backing from the head of NIH, which gave him the ability to publicly contradict Trump without too much fear of being fired. It probably also helped that he’s old and close to the end of his career anyway, so firing wasn’t as big a threat. Of course he also had the courage to take advantage of his position, which was by no means guaranteed.
I just don’t think we can go forward as a country without some accountability for some of this.
We’re incredibly harsh toward low level, powerless offenders but higher status people just sail along, having recklessly sacrificed hundreds of thousands due to their own ego and arrogance and belief that they are irreplaceable.
We can’t just keep burying our mistakes. There needs to be some form of neutral adjudication and redress.
James E Powell
Maybe being a back bench congress-creature in the minority doesn’t give him the adulation he requires to live.
@Ruckus: exactly ?
I don’t know how taking that power away from the president would work. I do think it is very risky for one human being to have the responsibility, especially given republicans, but given the time necessary I don’t see how it might work at all to have multiple people involved in the approval process. Maybe it’s the entire concept of blowing up the entire fucking world we should be discussing.
@Betty Cracker: I think you’re exactly correct here. It’s really, really hard for people who are not used to being around sociopaths to behave in the way they need to, because it is so far outside one’s typical behavior. She couldn’t do it. I know I couldn’t do it, either. I have had bad bosses — not Trump bad, of course, but bad — and I kept thinking that if I just made the case better or said something in just the right way that everyone would come around to my POV. I ended up quitting, though probably too late. Maybe I just identify too closely with Dr. Birx here to be objective.
HOWEV: Can we bring TFFG up on charges for criminal and deadly negligence?
J R in WV
The top leadership of fascist criminal conspiracy needs to pay every time!
Thanks for coming back!
James E Powell
Exactly. That was a damnable lie. Obviously a lie. Like saying he was a virtuoso pianist.
What she did was evil. And she knew it. Why are the press/media providing her air time to rehab her reputation?
Lynndie England: Rumsfeld
Wayback machine was already recording Birx’s fall.
I am sure that Birx (and Fauci) get death threats from Trumpy minions. That would freak me out.
Her reaction to his idiocy about injecting bleach is what she’ll be remembered for, but in isolation it was simply a government scientist being blindsided by the rantings of an incompetent buffoon. She didn’t have the microphone at the time so her deer-in-the-headlights shock was forgivable. (There was a similar episode with Dr. Fauci, wiping his brow and hiding his face as Trump spoke during a press conference).
The difference between Fauci and Birx is that Fauci wouldn’t sugarcoat his answers and repeatedly completely contradicted statements moments after Trump made them at the same podium. He didn’t directly attack Trump. But he didn’t grovel either.
Birx always felt the need to stroke Trump’s ego and reassure reporters that the president was closely following the science and working hard to contain the pandemic, despite the fact that we could all see that he clearly wasn’t. She was undermining her own message with every press conference.
Telling us, now, that hundreds of thousands of Americans died needlessly while she stood behind him is just awful.
@Betty Cracker: well sure, but it’s several times the salary, next to zero accountability, he gets to keep doing his performative RWNJ schtick (only now 24/7 instead of say 23/6), and yeah…that’s basically it.
Jamelle Bouie has a tweet up now about how ‘the extent to which conservative politics revolves around conservative media and not the other way around is a huge unreported story’ and he’s 110% right about that. The GQP stopped giving a shit about policies or voters a long time ago. Hence Madison “I’m staffing for comms, not legislation” Cawthorne and all the rest.
@Wag: Did good work on HIV? Wasn’t she part of Pence’s entourage, when he essentially caused an outbreak in his state?
but that’s the ego, right? She’s not in control of what Trump does. Not her job. Her job was to tell the truth.
We saw the same thing with Comey. He’s so smart he’s going to game out the reactions to not charging Clinton. That wasn’t his job.
These people would be happier and better at their actual jobs if they would stop trying to run the whole world.
Got my first Moderna shot today. Second shot is scheduled for April 28th.
Very few people who tried the “I must be the adult in the room to keep Trump in check” thing managed to pull it off. The only ones who did were the ones who obviously risked their jobs in the process, most of whom were eventually forced out. By 2020, it should have been obvious that selling your integrity in the hopes of maintaining influence was a losing proposition.
@Kay: My partner, preaching this past Sunday at his humanist UU congregation said “I’m in the camp that believes that the United States should be seriously considering at least two South Africa-style Truth and Reconciliation processes – one around racial justice, and one around the election and insurrection.”
I’d say we may need one around the 400,000 needless deaths. Frankly, as we head into an all-too-predictable variant-fueled upsurge even as we vaccinate, I hold the GOP particularly in contempt for so poisoning the waters of masking, temporary capacity limits and closings. Excess deaths happening now are just as enraging as they were under peak Trump.
Rick Bright might disagree with you. It’s one thing for rank-and-file government employees to keep their heads down, because someone needs to do the actual work. But there’s a point at which senior scientists have to draw the line.
@Betty Cracker, @Roger Moore:
I think this is a good take:
This new breed of Republicans never had any policy ideas. They see politics as the celebrity track for people with no talent.
I think we’re being a bit harsh on the whole internal disinfectant thing. The new Cherry Blast flavored Clorox reportedly tastes delicious, though it lingers on the palate a bit longer than would be desirable.
Is there a single Trump hire where this elaborate ethical calculus they did actually worked out to benefit the American people, the people they (supposedly) work for?
It isn’t that hard. Do they need written job descriptions? There wasn’t any need to do all this ethical wondering in the wildnerness and relying on their own (bad) judgment. Stick to the job. Let the rest fall where it will.
I’m not sure how much credit Fauci really deserves for threading the needle. He was in a better position to stand up to Trump and still didn’t say a whole lot. Ok, he wasn’t a complete toady, but that doesn’t make him some sort of hero.
Points for “clarity”, but her writer forgot to work in the words “noble”, “courageous”, and “selfless”.
@opiejeanne: no, she had nothing to do with Indiana.
Fauci had to have a security team assigned for a while (maybe still does?) because he was getting a lot of threats that were deemed plausible enough to worry about.
I just think if you want to be a “respected institution” you have to endure evaluation, always, over and over. WTF with this “moving on”? Oh, no. We are going to discuss your work!
Reputations aren’t earned once and then permanent, no matter performance. They have to be earned over and over.
And the childish language we now use for ordinary accountability! “Blame”. “Don’t BLAME me”. So…no evaluation ever?
I think Fauci had more protection from higher up than Rick Bright did. Fauci worked directly for Francis Collins at NIH, and my impression was that Collins was willing to risk his career to protect Fauci. So in practice for Fauci to lose his job, Trump would first have had to fire the head of NIH, appoint someone new, and have the new head get rid of Fauci. That was quite a bit of protection, and it put Fauci in position to stand up in a way most others couldn’t. He also had a lot of personal standing from having been in charge of NIAID going back to the ’80s. Again, he deserves full credit for taking advantage of his personal position to do what was right.
@Kay: It’s amazeballs how many people I’ve dealt with, in any walks of life, think they’re the linchpin of their particular organization, group, etc. Can’t say I’ve been immune either, but I do know DeGaulle’s quote: “the world’s cemeteries are filled with indispensable men.”
(Now I’m off to see if that’s apocryphal and/or misattributed.)
Agree with the remedy but “mistakes”? It seems clear that once it was discovered that minorities were more severely impacted, the actions taken were concerted efforts to downplay the seriousness at large and open up the country. And the withholding of PPE and ventilators from those states who didn’t kiss the ring. And the pushing of phony cures to make a buck.
Instances of purposeful wrongdoing too many to mention. Not mistakes. Intentional.
@IndyCat32: Thanks. I thought she rode in on Pence’s coattails.
I don’t think that’s quite correct. The Republican party is still a political party with policies, donors, legislation, etc. It’s just that all those things are driven by a media platform designed to monetize the party base.
@Suzanne: Fauci has a security detail which tells me the threats were bad. Don’t know about Birx.
Absolutely, but Birx, Fauci, Redfield and even Bright weren’t risking their careers by challenging Trump, only their particular jobs. This is why I have little patience for Birx. It’s part of the job, particularly in a scientific organization, for senior staffers to stand up to political nonsense – if only to defend the mid-level staffers.
Bright was fired because he refused to peddle, and actively objected to Trump’s push for snake oil. Fauci risked being sidelined for publicly refuting nonsense remarks. Left to her own devices, Birx would have done fine, but she allowed herself to be used in administration propaganda. At the far end, Redfield is still dabbling in the “China Virus” blame game.
So we saw a range of reactions. It’s pretty clear some failed in the crisis moment, where others didn’t.
@Steeplejack: no talent or just ugly as f;:&
It’s interesting to me that so few of the Trump people- the people who thought they were protectors of the institutions or whatever, joined with others who had the same misgivings. She didn’t have to do this alone. She has a whole professional community. They could have acted in concert. I wonder if the elite institutions themselves have cultures that value competition over coordination so it just never occurs to these people that they’re not the Lone Ranger.
It is kind of satisfying when you leave a job and they have to hire 2+ people to do the same work.
@Roger Moore: It’s probable that Fauci had greater civil service protection in the job he was doing than Birx did in the appointment related to the pandemic. It makes me uncomfortable to direct so much blame at Birx for her willingness to stroke Trump’s ego when Fauci made his own problematic statements. However, the thing you can fault Birx for are her rosy predictions. No one forced her to manipulate data to be politically palatable. That was definitely something she did.
Cheryl from Maryland
Don’t forget her partner in crime, Dr. Redfield. Who is now an “informal advisor” to the GOP Governor of Maryland, gifted with the Trump magic of making things turn to shit for both the COVID and anti-Asian sentiments. The CNN show with Dr. Birx inserted a clip of Redfield stating that his belief was that the virus had “escaped” from a lab in China. Gov. Hogan continues to listen to his inner GOP self and helped Redfield double down by saying no violence would result from just expressing an opinion. They all need to rot at Plague-a-Crapo with TFG.
@Roger Moore: He has a minor problem that popped up the first week of January that may create an issue with his continuation of congressional service, plus he may possibly need a bigger budget for legal fees.
@Cheryl Rofer: so, she blew off her oath, too – ya know, that little thing about first do no harm. She should have said something, regardless of whether or not it cost her that job.
Check the contrast with Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
who, early on, publicly told the blunt truth about what was coming and what we should do.
Trump, who wasn’t present at that briefing
But Messonnier had too much integrity to knuckle under. Birx, OTOH, enabled Trump’s megalomania.
Woo hoo! My middle son got the Moderna today. He had covid 2 months ago so we’ll see if he has a bad time with it.
He got 2 weeks off with pay because he’s in the IBEW- we all need a union :)
My son in Denmark is jealous of you-all. He wants the vaccine but can’t get it. Denmark fucked it all up and he’s nowhere near to getting one.
The Internet loves to make quick judgements and assign blame. Not that any of this matters. The health officials under That Fucking Guy were in a tough spot. They could defy the Orange Beast and get fired. They would be replaced by a complete toady. Or they could try to push back as well as they could. Tough choices. She did poorly either way.
Ultimately, Bird is old news. Moving on.
never had that happen. They always either hired 1 person to do a shit version of my past jobs, or divided up the duties amongst half a dozen already overworked people, who then did a shit job at it.
Hey, I have to weigh in on this Birx bashing. I don’t object to Birx being bashed, both here and in the media, but what bothers me is that it is ONLY Birx being bashed. Why is that? Why are whole columns being written about her, and none that I have seen about others equally blameworthy? What about Azar, what about Redfield?
Look, I knew we were in a boatload of trouble long before any of us had even heard of Dr. Birx. I knew it when Trump toured the CDC well over a year ago. Remember that? Trump gave that idiotic statement to the press about how amazed the doctors were at his knowledge and he must just have a natural ability thanks to his super-genius uncle and this stuff comes naturally to him, he could have been a great doctor – and all the while he’s spinning this deranged fantasy, Redfield is gazing at him like a star-struck groupie. I saw that on the news and felt the alarms blaring.
Why is it that when something goes catastrophically wrong, with plenty of blame to go around, ALL the venom is directed at the woman involved?
@Kay: Yes. It’s very much related to the voice in one’s head that says “It’ll be worse for everyone if I quit. I’m holding things together and so I must stay.”
It may be somewhat true that one’s competence in such incompetent waters was helping. But it was also masking and making excuses for the larger swirl of reckless, deadly incompetence.
Yes more might have suffered in the short term (counterfactual, so we don’t even know that). But refusing to give cover for dangerous fools is of significant value as well.
Could you elaborate? First week of January implies insurrection, but what was his involvement there? What would be more of an issue than other Republicans have?
I think Birx’s military background also made it exceptionally difficult for her to screw up the courage to confront a sitting president when he said crazy shit or yelled at her over the phone or whatever. But what she didn’t have to do is go out of her way to claim he was this highly engaged, detail-oriented consumer of health policy data and reports and all that. It’s all the turd polishing that will leave a permanent stink on her reputation. Too bad, because she was once a highly respected researcher and public health expert. ETTD, as they say.
@VOR: OTOH, (as I said a few days ago) Woodward’s tapes do show that TFG was paying attention to the scientific briefings and the news and understood very early on – in February 2020 at the latest – that COVID was a big, nasty disease and was going to cause problems.
So, she can be right that he was using his Big Bidness Brain to understand it.
Unfortunately, his policies and official pronouncements were at odds with the science. And she apparently didn’t care at all.
It’s that old saw “by their fruit you shall know them”. It doesn’t matter if TFG understood the science bigly. He actively made things worse, probably because he thought it benefitted himself and his cult to do so. She never did much of anything that we can see to counter his sabotage – for reasons that don’t much matter.
I am a little uncomfortable with the attacks on Birx. It seems to me that she was on the the side of good guys but that she didn’t play her cards as well as Fauci did. There are actual villains here, why not vilify them?
I forget exactly where I read this — may have been over at TPM — but someone a few years ago wrote about Trump that the one characteristic that allowed him to get away with so much shit over the years was that his outbursts, tantrums, and threats would catch people off guard and make them want to placate him rather than tell him to go fuck himself. Most of us hate conflict. When someone’s screaming at us, we’ll panic and fumble around for some way to pacify them and calm the situation. Trump realized early on that if he completely flipped out on someone, threatened to sue them, threatened to destroy their careers and lives, they would usually back down and do what he wanted.
@Omnes Omnibus: I am okay directing blame at her for what she did or failed to do, but I am not okay with blaming her solely for being too laudatory towards Trump when it’s hard to imagine anybody being able to function without doing that, even Fauci. However, Birx actively participated in massaging data that supported reopening way too early, and eventually, it should have dawned on her that she would not be able to force Trump to listen to science and it probably would have been better to jump ship. Instead, she took the tack of what I would call private diplomacy, going to every state and trying to persuade them quietly about what they should be doing. Very evidently she has zero understanding of how political decision making works.
One of the Many Jens
I’m uncomfortable with the extent of the Birx-bashing. She did not cover herself with glory, it is true, and she absolutely deserves criticism. I have some sympathy with her desire to maintain access as long as possible, given the advisor who functionally took over her position as an advisor was a crank who advocated that everyone just expose themselves in a vain attempt to gain herd immunity. It is actually possible that fending off the inevitable as long as she did actually did save some lives, even if it was also embarrassing and deserving of condemnation.
But I also have some appreciation for Birx, for after she was denied access to TFG, and her decision that if she couldn’t be helpful at the national level anymore, she could go state-by-state, investigate how things were working on the ground, and help out at the state level. I that that truly was A Good Thing.
And I also just have some sympathy for her position – she’s devoted her entire life to, functionally, this moment – and to have to face this with TFG as President, where there are no good choices anymore…. I have far more sympathy for her in the position she found herself in, than for Comey in his so-called dilemma. The world wasn’t falling down around his ears when he made that call, and he wasn’t looking at projections of hundreds of thousands of peoples’ lives relying on having someone sane keeping their oar in.
So anyway – criticism is fair, but I think some sympathy is, too.
@JoyceH: thank you for saying this
I think we can make comparisons too. I have two- the public health director in Ohio and the Governor of Michigan. Those two were threatened and vilified by rabid Right wingers- in Whitmer’s case there was an actual plot to kidnap/kill her, but both Acton in Ohio and Whitmer in MI told the truth to the best of their ability and did the job.
No governor wanted this. It’s a disaster for a governor- in real terms and in political terms. It was a horrible job for everyone. We have actual examples of people who handled it better than Birx did.
Right now, people are bashing her because she’s put herself in the public eye again while trying to rehabilitate her reputation. If Azar or Redfield do the same, they’ll get the same kind of reaction.
Ooh, would you mind providing a link to that tweet? Thanks!
The reason Birx is being targeted for her behavior right now is because she’s the one on the “apology tour” attempting to make herself look like something she’s not – a credible medical professional who did her job. Birx was in a position of leadership and did not lead. Instead, she cowered and attempted to appease Trump, lying to the American people in the process. I agree with Barbara, above. Birx’s greatest “sin” was the fact that she lied about the data and encouraged states to open up when the pandemic hadn’t even finished taking hold yet. This was part of what led to so many Covid-related deaths, and isn’t something I can forgive. I think we have to change our thinking on things like this and hold those who have the ability to make a difference – who hold positions of power – accountable, instead of empathizing about how difficult their positions were. Birx has shown a great understanding of the difficult place she was in, but little comprehension of what she should have done differently. Birx is demonstrating to this day why she shouldn’t have been in a position of leadership.
There is so much blame to go around regarding the Trump administration’s response to COVID. Birx is clearly culpable for painting a rosy picture at the outset. But we should all remember her antecedents. While she had a respectable public health career, she came out of the anti-abortion medical establishment that fostered so many of the folks appointed to high health positions in Trump’s administration. They were Pence’s people just like the CDC guy and the surgeon general. Being anti-abortion was a requirement for so many of those appointments. Likewise being of an evangelical bent.
When the history of the Trump Administration is written, I think it will become clear exactly how influential Pence was in choosing those who staffed the administration, especially in areas like health and I think education. He was the one who had the contacts in that world, who “knew people.” Trump didn’t give two hoots about those issues. And Birx was one of Pence’s choices. He brought her onto the task force. And nothing mattered to Pence more than keeping Trump happy.
Birx’s position was unenviable. But also unforgivable.
While in *general*, I agree with your principle here, that women tend to get bashed more often than men, and often for less egregious cases of fuck-up than their male counterparts’, in this *particular* case, it seems to me that people are responding to Birx’s self-serving statements after the fact. Has Redfield, for example, poked his head up over the parapet to say, “oh, yeah, well, about my COVID response…” yet? Or Azar? Because believe me, if either of them did, or had, I’d be equally quick to pour scorn and vitriol on their heads, as well.
@Roger Moore: Or what you said.
Not everyone rises to the occasion. A lot of people failed to deal effectively with Trump. One can count on one hand the people who managed to navigate his insanity but they do exist. She wasn’t one of them.
I feel as if part of what the Trump people did was lower the bar. Demand that we accept really poor work and behavior with this implied threat that it would be WORSE if he fired them. Come on. We can’t do that.
“Not up to it” was a kind of constant theme in Trump world.
Really? Redfield was on that same CNN special as Birx was, and I haven’t seen ‘the same kind of reaction’ to what he had to say.
There is also the concept of rank. No matter how we feel about it, there is that concept within human experience, and especially in the military and civil service. Not everyone sees that at every moment and there are limits even in those 2 areas. But everyone is not going to see those limits the same way. She may have seen the limit differently than most of us have, some are much more compliant than others. The egregious bullshit he was putting out should have negated anyone’s limit, but it is possible.
@germy: sweet, thanks!
@JoyceH: Sure. We don’t know for certain what his exposure on the events before and leading up to the events of 6 January 2021are. He was one of TFG’s point people on the electoral vote protests. There is the probability that he was one of the ones giving “tours” of a closed to tourists Capital building. Given his proximity to the periphery of what happened one can extrapolate from this his potential for a “problem”. That would be significantly more than the average Republican and could come with legal issues or if I’m reading the tea leaves right once more details come out I can see the potential for the Speaker to start expulsion procedures.
Ah. I saw the italics in “He has a minor problem” and went down a completely different path. It’s probably because every headline uses the scare quotes: “Gaetz talks about his ‘son’ Nestor”.
@germy: many thanks!
James E Powell
It may be because Birx is on a rehab tour with the press/media helping out.
And another thing, we don’t need her to say that “the phone call itself was ‘very uncomfortable, very direct and very difficult to hear’ ” – we need her to tell us exactly what was said, by whom, in what tone of voice.
If she wants to be forgiven, first a full confession, then atonement.
@Doc Sardonic: dentals should be details. Edit window closed before I could fix it
@JoyceH: If someone does a post on Redfield, I’ll be happy to dump on him as well. There’s plenty of blame to go around.
OT but be sure to put this in your wish list: John Lewis’ posthumous graphic novel about voting rights
I would add Dr. Rachel Levine here in PA, too. She already got enough shit and threats due to being trans and the vitriol the pandemic measures added had to be absolutely insane and terrifying. And yet, she stayed and did her job. Well enough to be nominated and confirmed as an assistant surgeon general.
@Doc Sardonic: fixed!
@One of the Many Jens: Great analysis of a (probably) good person in an impossible situation – impossible in the sense that is there an example of a TFG appointee who unhesitatingly did the right thing? The classic example is H.H. McMaster, who literally wrote the book on dereliction of duty, and yet…
@Zelma: i think that you are mixing Birx up with someone else. AFAIK, she was never one of Pence’s people in Indiana. (He did appoint her to the WH task force when he took over.)
@WaterGirl: Thank you
Might it be because the other women involved didn’t toady up like Birx did? Also, contrast Birx with the many, many other women who have stood up to Trump and continue to stand up to Trump.
As to your concern that the men involved aren’t having their day in the barrel? I totally agree. Redfield and all the others should have their professional licenses revoked (where applicable) and should be thoroughly investigated for any crimes, right down to jaywalking.
Hell, probably most of them cheat on their taxes, too. Fuck ’em. Release the real kraken on their asses — bring in the IRS and large shears.
I just googled her. She has had a distinguished career and did not have anything to do with Pence until he appointed her to the coronavirus task force.
Poor woman probably did not know how to handle a malignant narcissist.
eta: deal with, not handle. She was in an impossible position and nothing in her past had given her the tools to deal with TFG.
Just my .02
Well lookie here!
it’s deeply ingrained behavior to avoid confrontation at all costs. I’ve seen women stand up for the most horrible bosses (and spouses) ever, just because they were told by their mom’s it’s impolite to have an argument in public. I have been a little pissed at the parade Fauci got for enduring TFG and coming out the other side. You know Birx endured 10x the abuse at the hands of 45 and the Traitor Tots because of being a woman. It doesn’t excuse her behavior, but she presents with all the symptoms of an abused housewife. She probably believes that it was her job to please TFG and put on a good show for the press, not stand up to him. And in actuality it wasn’t her job to rein him in and manage those press conferences. She’s followed the rules all her life and this was probably the first time those rules have failed her completely. I’ve seen a lot of people freeze up when they are confronted with a situation that is that out of the norm. The entire GOP leadership did exactly the same thing during the 2016 primaries and have been frozen ever since. I also think she’s an uncurious, unmitigated moron who has been skating by on her country club manners for her whole life. It doesn’t surprise me that she has no clue that she missed a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something substantial that matters and completely missed it.
@Roger Moore: Maybe Robert Kraft can recommend a good lawyer??
@pat: From everything I’ve read about her reputation and previous career, Birx strikes me as one of those behind the scenes bureaucrats who does the job well and in the course of her career did not face the public at all, and further didn’t deal with the political appointees much if at all (this could be wrong). So her scientific credentials are fine, but her public judgment is questionable because she just hasn’t had to do this before. There’s an assumption out there that everybody at a certain level of responsibility can handle everything that comes and, being a low-level bureaucrat myself, I’ve seen plenty of bonehead moves from managers who’ve risen to a level where they don’t belong, and oh now they’ve done it in public. (My current commissioner’s most recent public appearance is another example.) Then Birx is a woman in a misogynistic administration, nobody coaches her, and the bonehead moves are almost guaranteed among that crowd. She went out to the states to talk to the agencies, which is what she should’ve been doing, and that went well enough. And now she’s retired and working on a second career, not at all unusual so not worth the snark, until we look at the company she’s involved with–something to do with air filtration and it rapidly is a combination of MEGO and are you fucking kidding me Birxie? You had better say flatly that you’re going in there to clean them up, otherwise you’re starting to be a bit…predictable.
great point. Birx like so many of Pence’s people endured all of it for one reason and one reason only – to get SCOTUS packed with anti-choice judges like Barret. Apparently no amount of adult deaths are equal to saving to a bundle of unviable cells residing in a woman uterus.
J R in WV
Wife was an elected union officer, when I told her about your son’s IBEW vaccine break, she said “I want a union like that!”
IBEW is a for-real union whose member do seriously dangerous and technical work.
Congrats to your middle son!!