I Alone Can Fix It | Carol Leonnig

Summary of: I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year
By: Carol Leonnig

Introduction

A new year ushers in a devastating global pandemic, but one leader continues to prioritize political ambitions over public health. ‘I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year’ by Carol Leonnig dives into the tumultuous events of 2020 and reveals President Trump’s challenge in balancing political self-interest with managing a deadly virus. The book depicts a battle between politics and science, Trump’s own pandemic messaging contradictions, and the role of image in influencing his decisions. Be prepared to unravel the complexities and consequences of actions taken under Trump’s administration during this unprecedented global disaster.

Trump’s Delayed Response to COVID-19

On New Year’s Eve, 2019, while celebrating at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump was slow to comprehend the danger presented by COVID-19. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, had just received an email from the agency’s outpost in China, about an unidentified virus outbreak in Wuhan. Redfield knew that respiratory diseases like SARS and bird flu would eventually cross from animals to humans, causing a global pandemic. By the end of the first week of January, there were hundreds of COVID-19 cases in China, then in Thailand and France. When this virus appeared in the president’s daily briefing, infected patients had already entered the United States. Redfield’s alarm was met with Azar’s response. However, Trump, preoccupied with impending impeachment hearings and vapers’ protest about flavored e-cigarettes, only half-listened to the discussion on COVID-19. Unconcerned, he hung up to try on a new tuxedo, ready for the New Year’s party.

Trump’s Pandemic Response

Donald Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was politically motivated, causing a delayed reaction to the crisis. Despite being briefed on the virus’s threat to national security, Trump hesitated to contain the virus, fearing the economic impact on his re-election campaign. The decision-making process was politically oriented, ignoring science and expert advice. Eventually, the economy took precedence over public health, leading to disastrous consequences.

Trump’s Mismanagement of COVID-19

By mid-March, as COVID-19 became a pandemic, the White House was divided over how to respond. Trump’s initial focus on the economy led him to hesitate in instituting a lockdown, despite the advice of his advisors. However, he eventually ordered a national lockdown. Despite this, Trump’s messaging was often contradictory and harmful, particularly regarding treatments for COVID-19. He promoted untested drugs and even suggested injecting bleach as a possible cure. He also refused to wear masks or practice social distancing, despite the advice of medical experts. Trump’s mismanagement had disastrous consequences and undermined the government’s efforts to contain the virus.

Trump’s Response to Image

President Trump’s leadership decisions were influenced by his self-image. His desire to portray toughness led to the drone strike on Qasem Soleimani and his reluctance to wear masks during the lockdown. The overflowing morgue footage in Queens convinced him to take action. When footage of George Floyd’s death surfaced, Trump initially showed empathy, but the main concern was how it would play out. As protests erupted across the country, he sided with Fox News and called for military intervention, signaling a more divisive approach.

Trump’s Chaotic Handling of the Pandemic

The Black Lives Matter movement and protests against racial injustice, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, were seen as distractions by President Trump as he pursued his reelection campaign. Trump’s disinterest in the situation was evident when he played golf on the day America reached 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. His administration’s COVID-19 response had already angered the medical community, and the doctors felt they couldn’t get through to the president. Despite warnings, Trump continued to hold campaign rallies with a disregard for safety guidelines. One such rally was held indoors in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where attendees were mostly maskless and cases spiked after the event. Governor Kevin Stitt and Herman Cain both contracted COVID-19 after attending the rally, with Cain eventually passing away. Trump’s reckless behavior during the pandemic contributed to his plummeting ratings in voter approval.

Trump’s Paranoia and Political Downfall

The book summary discusses how Trump’s paranoia ultimately caused his political downfall. The country was reaching a death toll of 200,000 from Covid-19, with voters feeling fatigued and hopeless. Trump’s administration had given up the fight against Covid-19, and he refused to admit defeat. However, his paranoia grew as the election approached, claiming that the election was rigged if he lost and that drug companies like Pfizer were holding back Covid-19 vaccines to undermine him. He attacked Anthony Fauci, a leading member of his own administration’s coronavirus task force, and lost the moderate voters’ support, crucial for his win. Ultimately, the election was now Biden’s to lose due to Trump’s paranoia, and he faced an unprecedented constitutional crisis as he refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, leading to his downfall.

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