Fauci and the Cult of the Public Minister

Surprised there's not a post yet on the Fauci Emails. The TLDR is that a bunch of Fauci emails have been FOIA'ed and publicly released. Criticism on the right centers around claims that this shows Faucci knew about and buried lab-leak possibility, worked to avoid spotlights gain-of-function research, admitted to things that he directly or indirectly contracted publicly, like masks, etc.

Fauci is more than usually flawed, even making allowances because he's a bureaucrat who's been playing the game for decades. But I find it fascinating how he's become a minor figure of reverence. For various reasons (political, psychological, social) Fauci is the authority, and given more than the usual benefit-of-the-doubt. If Kamala Harris or Mike Pence change opinions, we'll, they're politicians, we can't trust them after all. But Fauci! Why, he's an authority, his opinion changed because the science changed, or he's lying for the greater good, and we can trust him can't we.

I am highly fascinated by the cult of the public minister. It sometimes happens in history that officials become famous for nothing except being in charge during an emergency. WWI has a few good examples like this -- Kitchener became the face of the British War, "Papa" Joffre for the French, Hindenburg then Ludendorff for the Germans. Then, in another sense, certain premodern governments tended to be dominated by a few ministers of state, and whichever had the most charisma or capacity would exercise the most power almost irrespective of title. (The Romans had loads, Sejanus might be the most famous example.) Related, though distinct, is the trope of the tribune of the people, when a Huey Long or Cola di Rienzo or Martin Luther King comes to advocate a group that opposes formal power. Anyways, it's interesting how authority sometimes rises or resides in someone who has never properly been given it. Some men have greatness "thrust upon them"?

If I may speculate, I think the psychological need of a people to be lead goes through phases and moods, and at times the persona of its leaders is so unfit that authority falls upon someone else. This process isn't entirely rational (so you often end up with charlatans or at least average people treated as great men). (It is usually men, but Jiang Qing might make a good female example.)

But, the mood changes after a while, and I think there are many examples of such men being discarded instead of being rewarded with peaceful retirement and honor. It's possible it may happen to Fauci. Whether it does or it doesn't, I think as a comparison this trope will say something about America today. Are we being capably lead? Why did we turn to Fauci? Did we place in him too much trust? Will he be punished and does he deserve to be?