Today's blog is Part 2 of my interview with Dr. Peter Navarro, discussing his new book about the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 presidential election. (Read Part 1 here.) As you will read, he kept a cool head when faced with tough questioning by this journalist and experienced trial attorney.
His latest book, "In Trump Time: A Journal of America's Plague Year," reminds me of Christopher Isherwood's "The Berlin Stories." We know how the story ends, but we're given a close glimpse of the personalities and dynamics involved. Also, like Isherwood's writings, the pace accelerates as the book unfolds — creating true tension and engagement for the reader.
For this part, I interviewed Dr. Navarro by phone and by email.
I asked Dr. Navarro if he regretted what was one of the harshest aspects of the pandemic: the lockdowns. His response subtly points out conflicts between the highest ranked staff of the Trump administration and also, difficult choices that must be made in the heat of the moment.
"I spoke early in the lockdown period in The New York Times of the need to balance the costs of any lockdown in terms of economic losses and the loss of human life associated with things like increased alcoholism and depression and reduced access to critical medical care like breast exams and kidney dialysis against any benefit of slowing the spread of the virus.
"In the fog of the pandemic war, the lockdown seemed prudent at the time. As we learn more, it may be that the Swedish model of the pursuit of herd immunity may be the better strategy."
Having watched the daily White House pandemic press briefings, I had questions percolating hard in my mind for nearly two years – ones only Dr. Navarro or President Trump would be able to answer. Good, bad or ugly, there were things I needed to ask him that nobody else in the media seems to talk about.
"There was a point where the National Defense Act was going to be used with 3M and other companies to make N95 masks. I was never able to access an N95 mask and if any stimulus were to be handed out, shouldn't it have been those, like the British gas masks of WWII? Instead, we had Dr. Adams [Dr. Jerome Adams, the 20th surgeon general of the United States) misdirecting America, as if we are such selfish monsters that we'd grab up all the masks for health professionals and laugh.
"He never apologized. Why was that allowed?"
Dr. Navarro answered in part, but deftly sidestepped some of the more pointed and acerbic aspects of my query. "N95 masks are the right technology. We had limited production at the time and they were targeted for front line responders in the initial stages of the shortage. It was criminal for [NIH Director Dr. Anthony] Fauci to lie about the mask issue at the time."
We delved more into the selection of White House personnel, how that dovetailed to leave us where we are today. I asked him what seemed to be the most obvious question of the whole matter: Why was Mike Pence tasked to head the COVID task force, rather than world-renowned Dr. Ben Carson?
"That's a great question," Dr. Navarro mused. "I make the case that putting Pence [in] was the worst. Carson would have been a beautiful choice."
I wondered aloud if that selection was a choice by President Trump to buttress Mike Pence in case something were to happen to him, but Dr. Navarro didn't take the bait.
I reminded Dr. Navarro of other questionable personnel choices during the Trump administration, including Reince Priebus as chief of staff as a possible supplicating move to then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan by someone new to government, Omarosa Manigault, whose very claim to fame was for being a difficult person to work with, generals having temper tantrums and cabinet members not on board with the president's agenda.
I asked Dr. Navarro if things would be different in a second Trump term. "You know the old Ronald Reagan saw," he began thoughtfully. "[He said] 'Personnel is policy.' Bad personnel is bad policy is bad politics.
"Like I talk about in the book, [the choice of] Alex Azar for HHS blew up on The Boss. The most critical decisions are made early."
I then asked Dr. Navarro what position would be best for him in a second administration and if he thought he would make a good chief of staff. "If I thought like that, I would have never survived five years with The Boss!" he laughed off.
Thank you, Dr. Navarro, for giving this exclusive insight to Newsmax!
Tamar Alexia Fleishman was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's youngest female solo violinist. A world-traveler, Fleishman provides readers with international flavor and culture. She's debated Bill Maher, Greta Van Susteren and Dr. Phil. Fleishman practices law in Maryland with a J.D. from the University of Baltimore, a B.A. in Political Science from Goucher College. Read Tamar Alexia Fleishman's Reports — More Here.
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