Maybe it’s Aaron Sorkin’s fault. Or perhaps it’s because Donald Trump turned so many people’s brains into mush. I suppose a case could even be made that some people are just born hopelessly credulous dummies. Whatever the reason, you may have noticed — as I did recently — a weird uptick in people who become embarrassingly hyped every time White House COVID advisor Anthony Fauci and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul insist on turning yet another Senate Committee hearing into a mano-a-mano dick measuring contest, which, it just so happens, they did today.
There’s stuff like this, from a who’s who of uninspired #Resistence types, desperate to erase the already-porous line between spectacle and substance once and for all:
On the other end of the idiotic, horseshoe-shaped spectrum, you’ll find the exact same breathless rush to DUNK and BURN and DRAG, only with the names reversed. Stuff like:
Gee whiz! Smash bang! Two gladiators going at it tooth and nail!
We’re now entering the third year of a catastrophic global pandemic which has killed more than 800,000 people in the United States alone — probably many more. We’ve switched from a government whose response to preventable mass deaths was largely an exercise in bumbling ass-coverage to one which seems content — if not eager — to simply shove the most vulnerable among us into the unfeeling jaws of a pandemic machine. So sure, on some level I can understand why people grasping for sanity during a mass trauma event would choose to obsess over the largely inconsequential bickering between a senator and a doctor, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.
Dr. Fauci is no longer occupies the much-hyped role of brave truth-teller to a president who wanted everyone to chug bleach. His good, if objectively mixed, service thereof has long ended. Instead, it’s given way to this strange reality in which West Wing-obsessed weirdos venerate him as a celebrity rather than face the much more upsetting truth of just how much this country, and the Democratic president Fauci now serves, is messing things up. (Conversely, those salivating over Rand Paul — Rand fucking Paul! — and caricaturing Fauci as some sort of comic book supervillain are simply dumb as shit and/or evil).
I understand that everyone copes with our ongoing nightmare in their own way. If lighting corny Fauci votives and tuning in to Senate committee hearings like its a PPV wrestling match is what gets you through the day, then fine, so be it. But please, have some dignity. A coping mechanism isn’t a solution. Breathlessly recycling sound bytes isn’t an identity. Anthony Fauci isn’t going to save you.