Donald Trump has made it painfully clear that he expects governors, and not his administration, to take the lead on coronavirus testing. Evidently, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who's been rather candid in his disagreements with the White House, took the president's directive seriously.
In fact, as the New York Times reported, the Republican governor and his wife -- a bilingual Korean immigrant -- went to great lengths to reach a deal. Over the weekend, the article explained, a Korean Air flight "arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Airport carrying 5,000 test kits, which officials said would give the state the ability to make 500,000 new tests."
Hogan told the Times, "Luckily we had a very strong relationship with Korea. But it should not have been this difficult."
He's right; it shouldn't have. The governor has reason to be pleased, and this is good news for Maryland, but the United States should have a coordinated federal response that provides states with the resources they need. Having governors who happen to have bilingual spouses, relying on middle-of-the-night deals in a foreign country, is not a model for national success.
Oddly enough, the president who encouraged governors to call their own shots, and step up to solve their own problems, wasn't pleased with Hogan's efforts. USA Today reported:
Trump fired back Monday, and took the rare step of repeatedly criticizing a governor from his own party during the daily briefing with White House reporters. "Some of the governors like, as an example, the governor from Maryland, didn't really understand the list, he didn't understand too much about what was going on," Trump said, referring to a list of some 5,000 laboratories nationwide the administration has said is prepared to accept additional coronavirus tests.
By all accounts, governors are broadly aware of the labs, and their existence is not the source of the problem.
The president added that Hogan "could have saved a lot of money" if the governor had reached out to the administration for more assistance.
For his part, Hogan told reporters, "The administration made it clear over and over again they want the states to take the lead, and we have to go out and do it ourselves, and that's exactly what we did."
When Trump gives governors advice, and they take it, he's hardly in a position to complain.