OPINION

How about more serious deliberation in the U.S. Senate?

Jim Redwine

James Buchanan was the American president from 1857-1861 and is credited with that description of the United States Senate as a place for respectful, intelligent and impassioned debate. Such luminaries as Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and John Calhoun forged a Senate known for its ability to get hard jobs done well. Those three served when the annual pay was $5,000. Today, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky earns $174,000 per year as one of our 100 senators.

Henry Clay represented Kentucky also. Clay was called the Great Compromiser due to his ability to get Senate consensus on such volatile issues as war, then peace, with Great Britain in 1812-1814 and preservation of the union during antebellum days. Anthony Fauci is not a senator but he is our highest paid federal employee, $434,312 per year, as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and as the chief medical adviser to the President of the United States.

On July 20, 2021 Senator Paul and Dr. Fauci sat in the hallowed chamber where Henry Clay used to orate. Their exchange about the Wuhan China laboratory funds received from America was notably different from issues concerning war and slavery. It went something like this, “You are a liar!” and “You are another!” If the famous Ohio River brawler Mike Fink (c. 1770-c. 1823) had been involved, either Paul or Fauci might have been challenged to knock a red feather off the other’s shoulder. Or if two 12-year-old boys during a school recess had been at odds, one might have shoved the other and kicked dirt on him.

For several hundred thousand dollars in salaries and such seeming trivialities as a world pandemic involved, one might expect the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body to be, well, more deliberative. As reported over the cable news networks, Paul and Fauci were each claiming the other was not just incorrect on the arcane science known as gain-of-function research; the direct accusations were that both public servants were deliberately misleading their employers, i.e., you and me, Gentle Readers.

Further, Paul accused Fauci of perjury before Congress and Fauci pointed a bony finger at Paul and responded that Paul was intentionally confusing the facts. I do not know about you but I have found this Wuhan gain-of-function thing confusing enough on its own. Our leaders need not obfuscate things further. Research into how science can manipulate the genetic code of the coronavirus in order to create new more deadly ones sounds ominous enough. And according to some reports, the mysterious Wuhan Laboratory “Bat Lady,” Shi Zhengle, has already combined the genes of two bat viruses with genes from a SARS related strain to make a new and even more deadly virus. I am thinking we all might want to step back a way. Supposedly the good reason for such research is to prepare us for some future deadly disease. Unfortunately, history teaches us the altruistic motivations do not always win out.

Paul got his medical degree from Duke University and Fauci got his from Cornell University. They should know better than to bandy about with such concepts as world plagues, present or future. I respectfully suggest we may want to use the resources of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body for good and not expend our precious and limited resources on schoolboy shouting matches while Washington, D.C. burns.