Michael Gaynor
Positive thinker President Trump has been handling the pandemic much better than his political and media critics would have you believe
By Michael Gaynor
April 9, 2020

Throughout his presidency President Trump has unapologetically trusted in God and publicly asked God to bless America, much to the consternation of determined political enemies who prefer disaster if it will end the Trump presidency. Perhaps that's why the pandemic is not as horrific as the "experts" predicted and the Chinese government perhaps hoped.

The gall of anti-Trumpers castigating President Trump over his efforts to cope with the Coronavirus (aka the Chinese virus) is astonishing.

Given the ways the Government of the People's Republic of China and the World Health Organization have concealed the truth, whether deliberately or negligently, President Trump's early decision to block travel to the United States from China (and then Europe, Great Britain, and Ireland) while the partisan and futile impeachment process was proceeding against him – at the cost of being defamed as a xenophobe and a racist – was heroic as well as presidential.

Three days earlier, Taiwan had taken the same travel action against China, which may explain the World Health Organization's foolish hostility toward it.

Taiwan was doing the right thing while the World Health Organization was shamelessly failing in its stated mission.

President Trump acted likewise three days later and then proudly took the slings and arrows for doing the right thing and thereby enormously limiting the damage to the people of the United States from the pandemic.

To be sure, the anti-Trump media has treated the pandemic that could and should have been confined to China as additional ammunition in its war against President Trump, while he has been doing his best to stop the spread and flatten the curve.

Anyone who thinks that China disclosed that the virus was transmissible through the air as soon as it realized it is hopelessly gullible.

People like New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo cried out for help from the federal government as though the federal government is supposed to be the first responder, instead of the backup.

It's no surprise that the impact of the pandemic in the United States is much worse in New York than in any other state.

A few years ago Governor Cuomo had dismissed his experts' recommendation that New York buy nearly 16,000 ventilators at a good price because eventually they would be needed and bought none instead.

Accordingly, Governor Cuomo could only rail that President Trump should immediately provide New York with 40,000 ventilators (a number much greater than the number that actually will be used in New York for pandemic cases this year).

Fortunately, expert predictions on the extent of the United States pandemic victims are proving to be greatly exaggerated (like the death of Mark Twain).

Those victims should be blaming the Government of China and the World Health Organization, not President Trump.

President Trump's lifelong reliance on Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's Power of Positive Thinking has been serving him well.

The fastest possible recovery should be the national aspiration and aspiring beats despair.

Governor Cuomo owes the people of the United States, and especially of the State of New York, an abject apology for his bad judgment in not buying any ventilators – not President Trump.

Remember Pearl Harbor

Speaking of failure to avoid national disasters...REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR and study its lessons.

Americans rallied behind President Franklin D. Roosevelt, even though he had won an unprecedented third term as President on the promise to the voters that "your boys" will not go to war.

To win that third term, President Roosevelt made two important strategic moves:

First, he appointed prominent Republicans as Secretary of the Navy (Frank Knox, former 1936 Republican vice presidential candidate) and Secretary of War (Henry Stimson, a former Secretary of War and Secretary of State).

Second, he pledged to keep the United States out of the war in Europe, declaring: "I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again; your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars."

It was a politician's promise, not a pledge he kept, and he surely knew that he needed a compelling reason ever to break it.

What did the Roosevelt Administration know and when did it know it?

Shortly before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Stimson wrote in his diary: "[Roosevelt] brought up the event that we are likely to be attacked perhaps next Monday, for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was what we should do. The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.*

Roosevelt's administrative assistant at the time of Pearl Harbor, Jonathan Daniels, stated: "The blow was heavier than [President Roosevelt] had hoped it would necessarily be.... But the risks paid off; even the loss was worth the price...."

Vice Admiral Frank E. Beatty, an aide to Secretary Knox, related: "Prior to December 7, it was evident even to me...that we were pushing Japan into a corner. I believed that it was the desire of President Roosevelt, and Prime Minister Churchill that we get into the war, as they felt the Allies could not win without us and all our efforts to cause the Germans to declare war on us failed; the conditions we imposed upon Japan – to get out of China, for example – were so severe that we knew that nation could not accept them. We were forcing her so severely that we could have known that she would react toward the United States. All her preparations in a military way – and we knew their over-all import – pointed that way."

On October 7, 1940, Lieutenant Commander Arthur McCollum of the Office of Naval Intelligence submitted a memo to Navy Captains Walter Anderson and Dudley Knox, President Roosevelt's most trusted military advisers.

The memo detailed an 8-step plan to provoke Japan into attacking the United States. McCollum's eight recommendations were prefaced as follows:

"It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States Government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado; and it is barely possible that vigorous action on our part might lead the Japanese to modify their attitude. Therefore the following course of action is suggested...."

The suggestions were:
    A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore.

    B. Make an arrangement with Holland for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies.

    C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-shek.

    D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore.

    E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient.

    F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands.

    G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil.

    H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire.
President Roosevelt implemented the recommendations in 1941.

Following the implementation of the eighth recommendation, Japan attacked.

Secretaries Stimson and Knox had worked to make Pearl Harbor ready for a Japanese attack, but, like President Roosevelt, they did not warn that "the Japanese were coming."

On January 24, 1941, Secretary of War Knox wrote to Secretary of War Stimson as follows:
    "The security of the U.S. Pacific Fleet while in Pearl Harbor, and of the Pearl Harbor Naval Base itself, has been under renewed study by the Navy Department and forces afloat for the past several weeks. This reexamination has been, in part, prompted by the increased gravity of the situation with respect to Japan, and by reports from abroad of successful bombing and torpedo plane attacks on ships while in bases. If war eventuates with Japan, it is believed easily possible that hostilities would be initiated by a surprise attack upon the Fleet or the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor."
In my opinion, the inherent possibilities of a major disaster to the fleet or naval base warrant taking every step, as rapidly as can be done, that will increase the joint readiness of the Army and Navy to withstand a raid of the character mentioned above."

"[T]he character mentioned above" was "a surprise attack upon the Fleet or the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor."

Knox's letter listed six dangers to be provided for and stated that the first two – (1) air bombing attack and (2) air torpedo plane attack – had not "been provided for satisfactorily," and asserted that "the solution" to "the problems encompassed in (1) and (2)" was "of primary importance."

Knox proposed the following counter measures:
    (a) Location and engagement of enemy carriers and supporting vessels before air attack can be launched;

    (b) Location and engagement of enemy aircraft before they reach their objectives;

    (c) Repulse of enemy aircraft by antiaircraft fire;

    (d) Concealment of vital installations by artificial smoke;

    (e) Protection of vital installations by balloon barrages.
Secretary of War Stimson replied on February 7, 1941, that he completely concurred as to the importance of Pacific Fleet security and the urgency of making every possible defense preparation. His reply began:

"1. In replying to your letter of January 24, regarding the possibility of surprise attacks upon the Fleet or the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, I wish to express complete concurrence as to the importance and the urgency of our making every possible preparation to meet such a hostile effort. The Hawaiian Department is the best equipped of all our overseas departments, and continues to hold a high priority for the completion of its projected defenses because of the importance of giving full protection to the Fleet."

Stimson expected an aircraft warning system to be in place in Hawaii long before December 7, 1941.

Stimson: "4. With reference to the Aircraft Warning System, the equipment therefor has been ordered and will be delivered in Hawaii in June. All arrangements for installation will have been made by the time the equipment is delivered. Inquiry develops the information that delivery of the necessary equipment cannot be made at an earlier date."

Stimson forwarded Knox's letter and his reply to the Commanding General, Hawaiian Department, and directed him "to cooperate with the local naval authorities in making these measures effective."

To be sure, the defense to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was NOT "effective."

Don't blame Peru!

On February 1, 1941, the Chief of Naval Operations wrote to the commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet concerning "Rumored Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor" as follows:

"1. The following is forwarded for your information.

"Under date of 27 January the American Ambassador at Tokyo telegraphed the State Department to the following effect: 'The Peruvian Minister has informed a member of my staff that he has heard from many sources, including a Japanese source, that in the event of trouble breaking out between the United States and Japan, the Japanese intend to make a surprise attack against Pearl Harbor with all of their strength and employing all of their equipment. The Peruvian Minister considered the rumors fantastic. Nevertheless he considered them of sufficient importance to convey this information to a member of my staff.'"

The dispatch continued, shortsightedly: "2. The Division of Naval Intelligence places no credence in these rumors. Furthermore, based on known data regarding the present disposition and employment of Japanese Naval and Army forces, no move against Pearl Harbor appears imminent or planned in the foreseeable future."

That evaluation proved to be tragically shortsighted.

Fortunately, President Roosevelt appointed a positive thinker to deal with the mess. He appointed Chester Nimitz as commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet over 28 senior flag officers, made him an admiral and gave him administrative control, for the Allied campaign against Japan, of all ships and naval store bases in the Pacific, as well as strategic command of all the vast ocean areas except those under the jurisdiction of General Douglas MacArthur, another positive thinker who famously pledged to return to the Philippines after President Roosevelt had ordered him to leave it.

On Christmas Day, 1941, days before taking control, Nimitz toured by boat the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese as big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters in all directions.

As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked what Nimitz thought after seeing all the destruction.

Nimitz's reply shocked all present.

Nimitz said: "The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?"

The shocked young helmsman responded: "What do you mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?"

Nimitz explained:

Mistake >number one: The Japanese attack on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk, we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two: When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is on top of the ground in storage tanks five miles over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That's why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make, or God was taking care of America.

A Nimitz admirer familiar with the story opined that (1) Nimitz, a Texan, was "a born optimist"; (2) "anyway you look at it – Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation [or] circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism": (3) President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job"; (4) "[w]e desperately needed a leader that could see silver linings in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat"; and (5) "[t]here is a reason that our national motto is 'IN GOD WE TRUST."

Throughout his presidency President Trump has unapologetically trusted in God and publicly asked God to bless America, much to the consternation of determined political enemies who would prefer disaster if it will end the Trump presidency. Perhaps that's why the Chinese virus is not as horrific as the experts predicted and the Chinese government perhaps hoped.


Michael J. Gaynor

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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