Joseph Bernt

Joseph Bernt

Members of Cannon Beach Reads, meeting via Zoom, will discuss “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming,” edited by Paul Hawken, Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m.

Mary Lloyd will lead this discussion of the short, hopeful descriptions in “Drawdown” of innovations in construction, heating and cooling, transportation, energy production, agriculture, forestry, aquaculture, waste management and flight that promise to reduce carbon footprints.

Anyone interested in joining monthly Cannon Beach Reads discussions should email Joseph Bernt at berntj@ohio.edu to receive an invitation that includes information for accessing these Zoom meetings.

In September, the Cannon Beach Library added seven novels, nine mysteries and four nonfiction books to its “green-dot” collection.

Fictional titles added include “Anxious People” by Frederik Backman, “The Lying Life of Adults” by Elena Ferrante, “Total Power” by Vince Flynn, “The Evening and the Morning” by Ken Follett, “The Exiles” by Christina Baker Kline, ”Monogamy” by Sue Miller and “The Book of Two Ways” by Jodi Picoult.

Among new mysteries added are Ann Cleeves’ “The Darkest Evening,” Rachel Howzell Hall’s “And Now She’s Gone,” Iris Johansen’s “Chaos,” Craig Johnson’s ”Next to Last Stand,” Peter Lovesey’s “The Finisher,” Mike Lupica’s “Robert B. Parker’s Fool’s Paradise,” Louise Penny’s “All the Devils Are Here,” Anne Perry’s “A Question of Betrayal” and Mark Pryor’s “The French Widow.”

New nonfiction titles include “Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America” by Kurt Andersen, “Iron Empires: Robber Barons, Railroads, and the Making of Modern America” by Michael Hiltzik, “Hoax: Donald Trump’s Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth” by Brian Stelter and “Rage” by Bob Woodward.

I spent time last weekend reading “Rage,” Woodward’s 19th investigative book and 2nd describing the turbulence of Donald Trump’s first presidential term.

An associate editor at the Washington Post, Woodward has built a reputation for meticulously accurate and news-making coverage of America’s leaders since first coauthoring “All the President’s Men” with Carl Bernstein in 1974—investigative reporting that flooded colleges and universities with journalism majors during the 1970s and 1980s.

Woodward is at his best when dogging sources, witnesses and documents that promise to reveal or explain actions of American politicians. When Woodward catches a scent, gets on a point, he doesn’t abandon the hunt until he brings the story to light..

Woodward disappointed me by how few journalistic birds he retrieved for me in “Rage.” He did capture inconvenient facts, though, about when and what President Trump knew about the coronavirus pandemic, a matter of great interest as citizens—preparing to cast their votes—dwell on the worst economy since the Great Depression and the most threatening health crisis Americans have experienced in a century.

Voters may not need Woodward’s revelations about President Trump’s knowledge of the pandemic, but having an investigative reporter of Woodward’s stature document the president’s mishandling of coronavirus, the economy, racial divisions and restrictions on America’s lifestyle won’t help the president in November.

Trump tells Woodward that of 20 people meeting at the White House on January 31, 2020, he was the only person who supported closing the country to Chinese visitors. Actually, Woodward reports Anthony Fauci said, “I think this is the only way we’ve got to go right now.” Alex Azar, Robert Redfield, Robert O’Brien and Matt Pottinger also advocated for travel restrictions; but Trump told Woodward in March that he deserved exclusive credit for having restricted travel from China.

On February 9, Fauci and Redfield advised governors attending a Governors Association meeting to focus onprotecting their cities because there was every reason to think the disease would affect the U.S. as harshly as China. After the meeting, Fauci saw the alarm on the governors’ faces. “I think we scared the s--- out of them,” Fauci said.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release describing the virus as a serious public health issue, adding the risk to the American public remains low at this time. The next day Trump publicly said three times that the virus would go away on its own. “When it gets a little warmer it miraculously goes away,” he told a packed rally. “I think it’s going to work out good. We only have 11 cases and they’re all getting better.”

Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, was asked by a visitor where the hole in reelection might be. “The Coronavirus,” he responded emphatically.

The New York Times reported that day “Coronavirus Fears Drive Stocks Down for 6th Day.” Sixty-four cases had been confirmed in the United States. The day before, Trump said “It’s going to disappear. One day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.”

On March 9, Trump tweeted, “Last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, with 22 deaths, Think about that!”

Coronavirus was going from bad to worse as President Trump minimized the danger.

On March 15, Mike Pence, Steve Mnuchin, Fauci, Deborah Birx and Trump circled the Resolute Desk. Fauci and Birx suggested closing down for 15 days. Ask all Americans to work and attend school from home; avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and restaurants and bars; end traveling, shopping and visiting relatives at nursing homes. Wash hands, avoid touching faces, sneeze into a tissue and disinfect surfaces.

Trump finally agreed to try this for 15 days, suggesting “Maybe we’ll be able to open up for Easter.”

That day Trump said, “This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over.”

That same day, Jared Kushner got a grim wake-up call as he was working on ramping up test sites. “We’ve got bad news,” he was told. “There are only 1.2 million swabs available for administering tests in the country.”

For Redfield this was the most difficult time of his long professional life. “15 Days to Slow the Spread” was important, but not enough. “We’re in a two-year, three-year race. Not a one-year, not a six-month race,” he explained. “The race is to slow and contain this virus as much as humanly possible with all our efforts, till we can get a highly efficacious vaccine deployed for all the American people and then beyond that to the rest of the world.”

All talk about the virus going away or disappearing was medically false.

On March 16, with the U.S. economy shutting down, Trump referred publicly to coronavirus as the “Chinese Virus” for the first time, demonstrating his need for an enemy to blame.

In a 40-minute telephone call with Woodward on March 19, 2020, Trump on three occasions referred to “his” January 31 decision to ban Chinese travel to the U.S. as having avoided “tremendous death.” He blamed China and President Obama and denied any responsibility for spread of the virus.

Woodward writes that Trump knew his handling of the virus was being criticized. “After surviving the 22-month-long Mueller investigation and the third impeachment trial in United States history,” Woodward wrote, “the real dynamite behind the door was the virus,” Woodward wrote. “The lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans hung in the balance with every decision he made in dealing with the coronavirus.”

According to Woodward, Trump knew the virus was deadly to young and old, and described his early upbeat:rhetoric regarding the virus as deliberate.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Woodward’s final sentence is nicely understated: “When his performance as president is taken in its entirety, I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

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