On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee made a plea to businesses in Washington, asking them to voluntarily begin manufacturing a long list of items needed by hospitals and caregivers who are fighting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. One reason Insee has had to go begging locally is because the federal response has been so inadequate, inept and incoherent.

The federal fiasco starts at the top. For evidence of this, one need look no further than the White House briefings rife with conflicting information. At these sessions, there is solid information provided by medical experts, particularly by Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. But as soon as Donald Trump steps up to the microphone, things veer toward the surreal.

Over and over, the president has contradicted the facts presented by Fauci and other people who actually know what they are talking about, thus confusing and misleading the public. He makes big claims of success in his administration’s response to the crisis — claims that are demonstrably false — even as he ignorantly downplays the threat itself. And he disparages governors, such as Inslee, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — the people who are by default, taking the lead in dealing with the pandemic. Whenever they dare criticize him or fail to offer him praise, Trump goes on the attack, even to the point of implying he might withhold critical medical supplies from his critics’ states.

Trump’s clownish performance at the daily briefings would be hilarious, if it were not such a dangerous, deadly example of supreme mismanagement.

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