President Donald Trump’s minions in the White House went on the attack against Dr. Anthony Fauci this week. In everything from an opposition research-style document given to the media to the display of an anti-Fauci cartoon to an Op-Ed piece in USA Today that claimed Fauci was “wrong about everything,” the Trumpists were on the warpath against the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert in the middle of a pandemic that is worsening by the day.

Curiously, by the end of the week, the president was saying nice things about Fauci and mildly reprimanding some of his aides for their criticisms. It may be that he figured out that getting into a spat with Fauci is not smart politics. Fauci is well-regarded and trusted by a big majority of Americans while Trump’s approval rating has been sinking for weeks.

Fauci is popular because, even though he may have made a few bad calls early in the rise of the coronavirus, he has admitted his errors, generally given very reliable advice, shows that he takes the pandemic very seriously and is devoted to finding a way to control and end it. Trump is trusted by fewer and fewer Americans because it is actually he who has been “wrong about everything.” He has been in continual denial about the seriousness of COVID-19, has avoided taking a leadership role in fighting the virus and seems concerned only with how the crisis will affect his re-election chances, not with the thousands of Americans who are dying.

Fauci is a man of physically short stature while Trump is a big, hulking presence, but when it comes to true stature – moral and otherwise – it is the doctor who stands many heads and shoulders above the president.

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