Hiltzik: The right's attack on Fauci shows it has nothing in its policy tank but slogans

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci arrives testify before a House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the Trump administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP)

All politicians appreciate the power of a symbol, a slogan or a mantra.

That must account for the right wing's transformation of the name of Anthony S. Fauci, America's best-known and most respected immunologist, into an all-purpose swear word.

The right wing has tried to make Fauci, 80, the face of a supposed campaign to absolve China from responsibility for ushering the virus that causes COVID-19 into the world, which is known as the "lab leak hypothesis."

Tucker Carlson of Fox News alleges Fauci lied to the public to protect a virus lab in Wuhan, China, and has mocked him via graphics on his show as "Lord Fauci, Patron Saint of Wuhan."

Republican officeholders have called for Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to be fired or subjected to criminal prosecution.