Despite their NYC roots, President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), are a study in contrasts.
Trump grew up in Queens as the scion of a wealthy real estate developer. Fauci grew up in Brooklyn delivering prescriptions for his family’s pharmacy.
Trump was an indifferent student who made his way through boarding schools on his charm and influence. Fauci was a studious, intense athlete who excelled in the rigorous Jesuit educational system.
Trump is a tall, strapping man with a penchant for fast food and leisurely rounds of golf. Fauci is a slight man who dines on yogurt and hummus and almost always manages to squeeze a 5K run into his 19+ hour workdays.
Trump is a political novice. Fauci has served the last six presidents and has been around Washington, DC since the late 60s.
Trump has built his brand on selling everything from real estate to steaks to vacations to ties, all of which involve convincing the buyer that what he has to offer is the best, most beautiful, most awesome thing ever. Fauci has built his career on observing the facts and relaying them as clearly and plainly as possible to people with the power to make decisions.
Trump is prone to puffery. Fauci is clear, precise and factual.
As the coronavirus crisis has grown, Fauci has occasionally found himself clarifying or even correcting the president’s and others’ remarks. He’s done so without a hint of partisanship or disrespect.
It takes moxie to find common ground and work towards a common goal, and Fauci has it. Here’s how:
Moxie embraces humanity.
Fauci has made immunology and civil service his life’s work. He started his career with the National Institutes of Health in the late 60s and has served there ever since.
He rose to prominence thanks to his work recognizing the threat posed by HIV/AIDS early on and convincing powerful people that they needed to do something about it.
That was a tall order at the time. The disease initially seemed to pop up only amongst gay men, who were marginalized and stigmatized at the time. HIV/AIDS was dismissed as a “gay man’s disease” and few were interested in tackling the issue.
But Fauci didn’t see it that way. He saw the inherent humanity of the gay men who seemed to be the hardest hit, and he also saw that HIV/AIDS was a threat far beyond the LGBTQ community. He wasn’t afraid to connect, listen and advocate for LGBTQ people suffering from HIV/AIDS. His efforts were so effective that HIV/AIDS is no longer considered a death sentence. George H. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Honor in 2008 for his outstanding contributions.
When Ebola came to our shores a couple of decades later, it was Fauci who led the charge to fight it here at home and around the world. The highly contagious hemorrhagic illness was gruesome and terrifying, and Americans looked on with dread and fear as a handful of cases popped up.
When an American nurse who contracted Ebola while treating a patient with the disease came down with it herself, Fauci was involved in her care. When she recovered, he made it a point to publicly embrace her. Fauci knew it was important for people to see that he wasn’t afraid, and they didn’t need to be, either.
It takes moxie to put aside fear and judgment and risk the fear and judgment of others, and Fauci has it.
Moxie puts in the work and sticks with it.
Fauci’s work ethic is legendary. At 79, he regularly puts in 19 hour days, getting by on just a few hours of sleep each night. He runs at least three miles every day.
His days often begin before dawn and continue long after the sun goes down, and they would strain the resolve and resiliency of any other mere mortal. He often makes rounds checking in on patients suffering from the diseases he’s trying to tame. Between meetings and consultations, he’s often tasked with making media appearances and doing interviews across popular broadcast media.
It takes moxie to take on such a high-pressure grind, and Fauci has it.
Moxie finds partnerships that get the job done.
Fauci is as smart and insightful about people as he is about viruses. You have to be to survive in Washington, DC as long as he has.
His straightforwardness and credibility have earned him not only the respect of presidents but activists, too.
As the HIV/AIDS crisis began to heat up in the 1980s, activists didn’t think Fauci was doing enough to address the issue. They protested outside his office building, burning him in effigy.
Did Fauci get riled up and retreat from engagement? No. On the contrary, he reached out to activists. He listened to their concerns and their ideas and implemented what made sense.
The effort earned him grudging respect from even the most hardened activists.
“I call him murderer or hero, depending on the week,” Larry Kramer told the New York Times in 1994.
Fauci has been forthcoming about his relationship with President Trump. He acknowledges that he is uncomfortable with the way the president chooses to present some facts, but he recognizes how crucial their partnership is to conquering the novel coronavirus challenge. And no matter what, he’ll always be straightforward with the American people and their leaders.
“You should never destroy your own credibility. And you don’t want to go to war with a president,” he said in an interview with Politico. “But you got to walk the fine balance of making sure you continue to tell the truth.”
When President Trump says he has the very best people working to guide us through the COVID-19 crisis, I feel confident that in the case of Anthony Fauci, his statement is 100 percent accurate.
Fauci’s Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Fauci