In the battle over when we should get back to a greater sense of economic normalcy in dealing with the coronavirus, politicians must drink in the advice imparted by our valiant healthcare professionals, but, ultimately, it must be the elected officials themselves, and not the bureaucrats, who make the final call. The same holds true even for the question of whether we should expedite experimentation with potential drug therapies.
Last week, the media salivated witnessing President Donald Trump seemingly at odds with the renowned Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). In a sea of horrific news about the spread of the infection, the president sought to give hope by noting there are some promising reports regarding the use of the commonly used malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, to help stem the virus. When Fauci was asked about the drug from the usual band of gotcha reporters, he understandably answered as would most physicians steeped in the bureaucracy. He tempered expectations and claimed that the buzz about the drug's potential was merely "anecdotal."
The media jumped. It appeared the credible, steady and learned doctor was taking to school the bumbling, rambling, impulsive and syntax-challenged president. The liberal elites portrayed Trump as a quack conspirator, promoting internet disinformation as a distraction to elevate his poll numbers.
You could see the Trump-hating pundits at the cable channels actually hoping that they'd find the drug was a bust so that they could fulfill their narrative that Trump is the Neanderthal they claim him to be. Bloomberg ran the distortive headline: "Virus Drug Touted by Trump, Musk Can Kill In Just Two Grams."
Fauchi's tepid response to the drug's promise was "Exhibit A" as to why we don't want bureaucrats making the final decisions. His use of the word "anecdotal" to describe the drug's success was a poor choice. The Oxford Dictionary defines anecdote as "an account regarded as unreliable or hearsay."
But this was not the case of someone's Aunt Betsy claiming that her nephew was cured by randomly using this drug. There was an actual French study, albeit with just 36 patients, that spawned a significant success rate. Such a limited sample certainly is not definitive proof, but it clearly justifies Trump's enthusiasm, as well as New York Gov. Andew Coumo's directive to extensively experiment with the drug in his state.
Bureaucrats would plod along, waiting for all the "i"s to be dotted. Much of that inertia emanates from the corporate culture that fears legal backlash where drugs are authorized for public use prematurely. Interestingly though, when pressed by Fox's Laura Ingraham as to whether he would take the drug if he was on his deathbed, Fauci answered in the affirmative, if it was part of a supervised study.
That's Trump's point exactly. When you are facing death, what do you have to lose? Trump's Right to Try Act of 2018, which gives terminal patients the right to choose experimental drugs not approved by the FDA, is another example of where an accountable elected official might speak more for the public than would the bureaucracy.
Now the question is when we should start getting people back to work. Again, the Trump hating libs suggest that only the doctors should decide.
While we greatly value the guidance of our health professionals, why would we defer these monumental decisions to them in lieu of those we elect to speak for us?
While we value the battle strategies honed by our military leaders, we would never let generals decide when we go to war. Would America have acquiesced to Gen. Douglas MacArthur making the decision as to whether atomic weapons should have been dropped on Japan, or even Korea (as he proposed)?
As another example, we are fortunate to have well-meaning environmentalists push our leaders to take action to further clean our air and waterways. But allowing them to write legislation is pure lunacy. Despite their good intentions, they care about one thing only — maximizing pollution control. No amount dedicated to the cause is ever enough. It's not their job to consider how the unlimited costs might stifle needed resources that could be dedicated toward education, infrastructure or health care. There needs to be balance, and only those who must account at the ballot box should be entrusted to make the final decisions after weighing all competing concerns.
No one is quibbling with pundits who demand that our doctors should play an integral role in determining when and how our economic closedown can evolve, or if virus beating therapies can be tested. But it is totally wrong for them to suggest our elected leaders should cede the ultimate decision to bureaucrats, no matter how dedicated, learned or well-intentioned these doctors may be. We elect leaders to consider all the advice provided by these professionals, and then to make the call on our behalf.
Steve Levy, former New York state assemblyman, Suffolk County executive, and candidate for governor, is now a distinguished political pundit. Levy's commentary has been published in such media outlets as Washington Times, Washington Examiner, New York Post, Albany Times, Long Island Business News, and City & State Magazine. He hosted "The Steve Levy Radio Show" on Long Island News Radio, and is a frequent guest on high profile television and radio outlets. Few on the political scene possess Levy's diverse background. He's been both a legislator and executive, and served on both the state and local levels — as both a Democrat and Republican. Levy published Bias in the Media, an analysis of his own experience, after switching parties, with the media's leftward slant. Levy is currently Executive Director of the Center for Cost Effective Government, a fiscally conservative think tank. He is also President of Common Sense Strategies, a political consulting firm. To learn more about his past work and upcoming appearances, visit www.stevelevy.info. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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