George W. Bush, citing Birx and Fauci, has ‘absolute confidence’ in nation’s coronavirus experts

Tribune Content Agency

Former President George W. Bush said that while “these are difficult days for our country,” he has “absolute confidence in the experts who are in charge” of the nation’s coronavirus response, according to a note emailed to his staff in recent days.

Bush pointed in particular to Debbie Birx and Tony Fauci, two doctors who serve on President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force.

“Laura and I know Deb Birx and Tony Fauci well, as do many of you,” Bush said, referring to his wife, Laura Bush. “And we know the character of our county. Like other crises we have overcome, we will come out of this better informed and stronger together.”

The former president’s praise of Birx and Fauci is especially noteworthy. Birx has served for years as the U.S.’s global AIDS coordinator, while Fauci is the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Both doctors have become mainstays in the Trump administration’s response — with Fauci, in particular, sometimes challenging Trump over policies and positions.

Bush also used the recent staff note, obtained by The Dallas Morning News, to share some insight on how he and his wife are taking care during the outbreak. The couple – who typically split time between Dallas and their ranch in Crawford – are “handwashing and social distancing to the max,” he said.

The former president is “reading, painting and riding mountain bikes,” while the former first lady is “reading, working puzzles and hiking,” he said. “And yes, we’re binging – mysteries, dramas and documentaries,” he said, referring to watching streaming video.

Bush offered some advice to his staff, too.

“Please be safe. Take care of yourselves and your families. Get exercise. And yes, keep working hard,” he said. “We appreciate you, we care about you, and we are thinking of you.”

The former president has kept a low profile amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Trump has not sought out the help of his Oval Office predecessors, as has often happened under past administrations when there were major natural disasters or other national emergencies.

Asked on Sunday why he hasn’t reached out to the former commanders in chief, Trump said he didn’t “want to disturb them.”

“I don’t think I’m going to learn much,” the president said. “Now, if I felt that if I called, I’d learn something and that would save one life — it would save one life, okay? — I would make the call in two minutes. But I don’t see that happening.”

Trump also criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the H1N1 flu outbreak in 2009 and Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“If you look at, let’s say, the H1N1 … that was a disaster,” the president said. “That was a tough period of time for our country. You look at so many other things that weren’t handled very well, whether it’s Katrina or something else.”

Trump added that he already has the “best people in the world.”

“Look, I respect everybody, but I feel I have an incredible team, and I think we’re doing an incredible job,” he said.


©2020 The Dallas Morning News

Visit The Dallas Morning News at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.