(p. 11) . . . the blundering of the Trump administration, while real and deadly, may not be responsible for the bulk of America’s coronavirus fatalities.
. . .
. . . : the absence of challenge trials for vaccines (in which young, healthy participants agree to be vaccinated and then infected with the virus), the predictable expert resistance to at-home testing. But the most important one was the straightforward bureaucratic calamity at the C.D.C. that delayed effective testing for a fateful month.
An effective president might have addressed some of these problems. (Although Operation Warp Speed, the White House’s vaccine initiative, is more imaginative than the bureaucratic norm.) But overall they are problems with structures and habits rather than personalities — an institutional decadence that predated Trump and will persist when he is gone.
. . .
. . . the third thing you see when you look beyond Trump [is] the fact that so many countries in Western Europe, to say nothing of our neighbors in the Americas, have had death rates similar to ours.
This reality speaks not of exceptionalism but of convergence — and the possibility that the trends of the early 21st century have left us sharing more in common not only with France and Spain but also with Mexico and Brazil than most Americans might expect.
This, too, may matter long after Trump is gone. Where there are crises, in this dispensation, they are likely to be general rather than just American. Where there is decadence, it is the shared experience of late modernity. And if renewal comes to an exhausted West, it will not necessarily come through America alone.
For the full commentary, see:
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 12, 2020, and has the same title as the print version.)