The Washington Post’s Philip Bump asked the same question on Thursday in a column titled, “How politically helpful have Rand Paul’s attacks on Anthony Fauci been?”
Using spikes in Google traffic each time Fauci and Paul have squared off, Bump determined that Paul had raised his media profile each time and, yes, that has translated into increased donations.
But this didn’t seem to lead Bump to the conclusion that Paul’s Fauci questions were merely or even primarily about political or financial gain.
“Paul was seeing higher weekly totals than he had been,” Bump writes, analyzing the two men’s exchanges. “From early May on, though, the level of fundraising was consistently at or above $100,000 a week, with only one exception. That pattern began when he got into the ‘gain of function’ fight with Fauci.”
Is Rand Paul’s Inquiry Still Legitimate?
But what Bump said next was most instructive.
“This is circumstantial,” Bump observed (emphasis added). “It’s clear that Paul is trying to generate contributions and attention from his fights with Fauci (the website to which Fauci referred is online, for example), but it’s not clear that this is central to Paul’s political efforts.
“Nor should one assume Paul’s confrontations are solely offered in bad faith,” Bump wrote. “While Fauci has repeatedly pushed back on his line of questioning, it’s a line of questioning that our fact-checkers consider to be in a gray area.”
Porter is apparently the sister of Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), and has since locked her Twitter account, for some, um, behind the scenes waste management work.
To ask the question is to answer it.
UPDATE (FROM GLENN):