“. . . She said she wasn’t surprised that a coronavirus wrought this devastation, that China minimized what was going on or that the response in many places was sloppy and sluggish. She’s Cassandra, after all.
But there is one part of the story she couldn’t have predicted: that the paragon of sloppiness and sluggishness would be the United States.
“I never imagined that,” she said. “Ever.”
The highlights — or, rather, lowlights — include President Trump’s initial acceptance of the assurances by President Xi Jinping of China that all would be well, his scandalous complacency from late January through early March, his cheerleading for unproven treatments, his musings about cockamamie ones, his abdication of muscular federal guidance for the states and his failure, even now, to sketch out a detailed long-range strategy for containing the coronavirus.
Having long followed Garrett’s work, I can attest that it’s not driven by partisanship. She praised George W. Bush for fighting H.I.V. in Africa.
But she called Trump “the most incompetent, foolhardy buffoon imaginable.”
And she’s shocked that America isn’t in a position to lead the global response to this crisis, in part because science and scientists have been so degraded under Trump.
Referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and its analogues abroad, she told me: “I’ve heard from every C.D.C. in the world — the European C.D.C., the African C.D.C., China C.D.C. — and they say, ‘Normally our first call is to Atlanta, but we ain’t hearing back.’ There’s nothing going on down there. They’ve gutted that place. They’ve gagged that place. I can’t get calls returned anymore. Nobody down there is feeling like it’s safe to talk. Have you even seen anything important and vital coming out of the C.D.C.?””