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Biden will follow science — and that’s not the insult Trump thinks it is

He meant it as a threat. At a Nevada rally on Sunday, President Trump promised his supporters that if former Vice President Joe Biden is elected, “he’ll listen to the scientists.”

It says a lot that Trump believed — and is likely correct — that his followers would disapprove of the notion that Biden would take his cues from scientists when it comes to the COVID-19 health crisis, instead of going with his gut. It says a lot about them, that is.

Trump went on, saying, “If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression.”

Oh? As it stands right now, under Trump’s “leadership” during COVID-19, the United States has the highest number of cases and death toll in the world. Infections jumped nearly 17% last week, and the virus has killed more than 220,000 people. We are looking at a winter that could see the death toll climb to nearly 400,000 by February. Entire industries are collapsing from layoffs, and the unemployment rate due to COVID-19 shot up to 14.4% in April of this year. That’s significantly higher than it was during the Great Recession, from 2007 to 2010.

But yes, we should all be grateful that President Trump has bucked the scientists and experts, and fearful that a President Biden would finally listen to them.

Trump’s latest attacks on science are a desperate last gasp at scaring what few undecided voters remain over the prospect that his opponent will only make things worse. It’s hard to see how that’s possible — and yet, Trump would have you believe science would be the culprit.

In a call with his campaign staff, with reporters listening, he raged against Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, who Trump himself appointed to the COVID-19 task force. “People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots — these, these people, these people that have gotten it wrong. Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb. But there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. But Fauci’s a disaster, I mean this guy....” Trump babbled.

Incidentally, under federal law Trump can’t −technically, at least − fire Fauci; he’s a career public servant whose job is secure. But his point was made nevertheless: Fauci going on television to tell Americans to wear masks, socially distance and take the virus more seriously than the president does, that’s the real problem. Not Trump’s own denials, false cures and bad advice.

“He wants to listen to Dr. Fauci,” Trump told supporters of Biden, as if this was meant to be a diss. To them it was, because in the cult of Trump he names the enemy and they pick up their pitchforks abidingly, no matter how much it may actually hurt them.

Indeed, it’s an odd campaign flex to brag about science denial and inadvertently credit the next guy with righting your mistakes. An ABC News/Washington Post poll this month found that 58% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of COVID-19. Biden holds a 17-point lead over Trump in that department.

A New York Times/Siena College survey shows 84% of voters trust the experts — even 75% among Republicans. Sixty-seven percent of voters trust Dr. Fauci — just 26% trust Trump.

So, to the rest of us, the idea that the next president would be guided by the science sounds like a welcome relief, and not just because COVID-19 is still infecting so many Americans, but also because the toll on our mental health is devastating, and under Trump, with his fearmongering and science denial, there’s no relief in sight.

Almost 41% of American adults report they are struggling with their mental health or substance use as related to the pandemic, according to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For children and adolescents, the pandemic and its impact on daily life and stress levels may continue to have increased long-term and adverse effects. Military suicides have increased by as much as 20% this year, and military leaders are looking at shortening combat deployments to better protect the mental health of soldiers and their families.

In some way, we are all struggling under the weight of this virus, whether we’ve been infected or not. And the last thing we need is a president cartoonishly and carelessly dismissing the experts.

If Trump is promising that Biden would correct that mistake, I think most of us are prepared — desperate, in fact — to take him at his word.

S.E. Cupp is the host of "S.E. Cupp Unfiltered" on CNN.


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