Nightmare Scenario (I)

Subtitled “Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History” this book covers the period from January 24, 2020 to October 30, 2020 laying out what you would have expected had happened to get us to where we are now.

The president was livid that Azar had convinced him to propose banning most flavored e-cigarettes a few months earlier, an idea the Trump’s conservative base had revolted against. (page 15)

Much has been written about Trump’s temperament, paranoia, nonexistent attention span, disaffection, susceptibility to conspiracy theories, and disregard for facts. It was all true. He didn’t read briefing materials. (page 30)

He didn’t want to deal with the coronavirus and believed he could make it go away by willing it to do so, as he had done with so much else in his presidency. (page 31)

Ironically, the body’s immune response to the virus, not the virus itself, causes the most severe complications or eventual death. (page 51)

[Trump} was suggesting sending all of the sick passengers, most of whom were elderly, to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where there was a US naval base. (page 60)

It wasn’t a sign of laziness or lack of commitment to the agency, [Redfield’s] supporters stress. Rather, it was the behavior of a sometimes absent-minded scientist who had finally reached the pinnacle of his career. He wanted to soak in this moment. He wanted every meeting to take longer than it needed to. He wanted to talk about the science in excruciating detail. He wasn’t a boot-stomping leader; he was more of a gentle giant. And that left him wholly unprepared for Trump’s team of vipers. (page 71)

At one point in January, the US was prepared to send 500,000 masks and other PPE to China if they shared viral samples. China refused and they were never sent. (page 72)

Under the Trump administration, no national COVID-19 testing strategy was ever developed, despite the persistent and pressing need for one. (page 83)

Once he became president in January 2017, Trump’s economic stewardship played out in three ways: browbeating, policy changes, and skyrocketing government debt. (page 86)

Many White House officials reviled Navarro and tried to ignore his appearances on television, so as to not become caught up in what they believed was cringe-inducing, factually dubious babble. But Trump loved having his top trade adviser, who loathed China with his every cell, on television. Trump didn’t like nuance; he liked fire-breathers. And Navarro was his dragon. (page 93)

Truth be told, Kushner was the de facto chief of staff, but the other officials had provided him with cannon fodder – and deniability – while he had roamed from issue to issue of his choosing, never staying in one place too long. (page 112)

A smooth communicator who had amassed a huge Rolodex of lawmakers’ and reporters’ cell phone numbers, Meadows was fluent in the kind of sycophancy Trump required. (page 115)

Less than a week after the shutdown announcement, one of the outside economic advisers, Stephen Moore, strode into the Oval Office to convince the president to open things up again. (page 131)

Brix’s gut instinct was right. The task force had been a mess when she had arrived. No one was really in charge, in part because that was the way Trump had wanted it. The president eventually began to refer to it internally as “that fucking council that Mike has,” a signal that he wished it would go away. He didn’t want anyone to exert leadership, and many on the task force didn’t want the responsibility, either, fearful of the consequences. What if they made a decision he didn’t like? With Brix now in charge, other members eyed her with some relief, but warily. How long would she last? (page 143)

There was a reason so many people in the White House were engaging in happy talk about how well the pandemic response was going: no one wanted bad news to trickle up to Pence and Trump out of fear it might affect his or her standing or influence. (page 172)

On February 29, Surgeon General Adams tweeted an even more emphatic message: “Seriously people – STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” (page 177)

In truth, government officials were completely unprepared as they wrestled with the decision of whether to mandate mask wearing or not, one that likely altered the course of US history. (page 179)

There were also concerns from some political officials that Trump would oppose having a US Postal Service he despised playing an integral role by being responsible for shipping all of the masks. (page 186)

Zhao was alleging that the virus could have been in the United States for many months and been brought over to China by the US military, the way many believed the Spanish flu had originally spread from a military base in Kansas in 1918. (page 190)

On April 2, the World Health Organization revealed that people could spread COVID-19 five or six days before they started developing symptoms; in some cases, they could do so even fourteen days beforehand….The only way to try to stop the spread was to have everyone, even those who felt fine, wear a mask in public. The day after the WHO research was released, the CDC finally changed its recommendations. For the first time, it advised Americans to wear nonsurgical cloth masks to prevent the spread of the disease. That abruptly undid more than a month of pleading with Americans not to wear masks. (page 194)

Trump’s resistance was driven entirely by his obsession with his personal appearance. Masks look ridiculous, he told aides. When people walked into the Oval Office wearing one, he ordered them to take it off. (page 195)

As for a national testing strategy, that remained a no-go for trump. He didn’t want to admit that there was a problem and he didn’t want to own it. At the same time, he blustered about exerting federal control over state reopening plans. The conflict was irreconcilable; either Trump was in charge or the governors were. In the end, no one was in charge. (page 198)

CDC scientists were working eighteen- and twenty-hour days trying to prepare nearly a hundred pages of guidelines, hoping to release them in April to inform the states how they could reopen. The agency sent the documents to HHS, which the n sent them to the White House. That was when the chaos began. Rather than a small number of health and political officials reviewing the documents and offering targeted suggestions, hundreds of people weighed in, ranging from Ivanka Trump to low-level political appointees at the Department of Education. But everything ground to a halt when the document reached the Office of management and Budget, led by Russell Vought. (pages 208-9)

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by qpat00 on July 28, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    i continually chuckle at all these non-fiction accounts of the trump presidency, written to sell books to the lefty wing nuts, now that the authors know there are at least 70 million of them out there. As a common sense democrat i don’t really buy this bookwriting hogwash, the usual modus operandi of any misinformation is to have some kernal of truth but wrapped inside lots of contrived sentiments to sucker people into reading it. And this will go on for the next 4 years, just like all the lies perpetrated on him the past 4 years. All just to discredit him. Sadly he has become a more famous person in history when one looks back. I dont like bombastic trump didnt vote for him both times.. Ironically, the person who is most to gain from all this is President Trump himself, like they say, any claims no matter how outlandish they are is still PR for him and you know how he revels in the PR..

    Reply

  2. Posted by Rex the Wonder Dog!🐶🐶🐶🐾🐾🐾 on July 30, 2021 at 1:59 am

    Many White House officials reviled Navarro and tried to ignore his appearances on television, so as to not become caught up in what they believed was cringe-inducing, factually dubious babble. But Trump loved having his top trade adviser, who loathed China with his every cell, on television. Trump didn’t like nuance; he liked fire-breathers. And Navarro was his dragon. (page 93)
    Peter Navarro lost, by less than 1% point, the closest Mayor election in San Diego History back in the early 1990’s. After loosing by such a slim margin Navarro thought he could be elected to the Congress, that was a loser deal. Then he decided to run for the CA legislature, and lost a third time in his running for elective office, with each loss bringing an even wider margin of defeat. Three strikes at elective office was enough for Navarro. He kept his fulltime job at UC Irvine through all the election races. I was shocked when Trump made him such a prominent part of his administration. But I did like Navarro points and arguments when he appeared on cable YTV, especially regarding China, the biggest danger we face today.

    Reply

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