Dr. Deborah Birx has responded to Nancy Pelosi after the Speaker of the House trashed the top government doctor in a closed-door meeting Thursday. Pelosi reportedly accused Birx of being “the worst” and “horrible” while also suggesting she is not data-driven.
Politico first reported on that revelation.
PELOSI SAID to Treasury Secretary STEVEN MNUCHIN and White House chief of staff MARK MEADOWS: “Deborah Birx is the worst. Wow, what horrible hands you’re in.” She accused BIRX of spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, while praising ANTHONY FAUCI, who she said “came to his senses, and is now a hero.”
The fact that Pelosi loves Dr. Anthony Fauci is probably a good tip-off that he’s gone way off the rails. As I wrote recently, his game playing has become increasingly tiresome (see Jim Jordan Roasts Dr. Fauci After He Tries to Weasel Out of a Big Question). More and more, he’s clearly letting politics and a pursuit of fame drive his analysis, as he’s refused to criticize states like New York and the “protests” occurring across the country.
Dr. Birx has now responded.
Birx’s response came after Pelosi reportedly called her “horrible” and “the worst” during a private Thursday night White House meeting, then went on to cite her lack of confidence in the coronavirus task force member during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Do you want to respond?” asked CNN guest-anchor Dana Bash.
“I have tremendous respect for the speaker,” Birx said. “And I have tremendous respect for her long dedication to the American people, and I think it was unfortunate that The New York Times wrote this article without speaking to me. I could have brought forth the data.”
I understand Birx is trying to remain above the fray, but this is cringe-worthy. While some outlets described this as her “firing back,” it was anything but. Rather, it strikes me as a weak attempt to have it both ways, giving in to Pelosi’s premise and praising her personally while pretending it was actually a miscommunication by The New York Times that is at fault. Who heaps plaudits on someone who’s just called them “horrible” and “the worst?”
Of course, Dr. Birx is at heart a Democrat just like almost every other government bureaucrat. Her political leanings are not a secret and that doesn’t make her a bad person. Given that, I guess it makes sense that she’d be hesitant to actually go directly at Pelosi for the venom she spewed.
Here was as heated as she got in her response.
Birx argued that her analysis was “not a pollyannish review.”
“I have never been called that or nonscientific or non-data driven and I will stake my 40-year career on those fundamental principles of utilizing data to really implement better programs to save more lives,” she concluded.
Trump eventually jumped into the ring, unhappy that Birx hedged in the manner she did.
Some conservative commentators didn’t like Trump’s tenor here, suggesting it’s unfair to criticize Birx’s meager rebuttal to Pelosi’s toxicity. I can see where the use of the word “pathetic” would rub some the wrong way. On the other hand, we are only a month or so removed from widespread insistence on the right that Fauci was a bastion of apolitical infallibility, so there’s a real debate to be had about just how much benefit of the doubt any of these bureaucrats should be given. Regardless, I understand Trump’s frustration. People can always disagree on the style of messaging.
For my part, I believe Birx was way too kind here. Whether she desires it or not, the fray overtook her long ago. She can either stand up for herself and the facts, including criticizing Democratic politicians and states when they deserve it, or she can try to toe a line that isn’t able to be toed in the end. Anything short of screaming orange man bad at all times will never satisfy Pelosi. The dancing on eggshells has been proven to be pointless.