Someone once said that if you ever want to know what conservatives are doing, just listen to what they’re accusing progressives of doing. This is projection — and Donald Trump is a master of it.
As I’ve written many times before, once you realize everything Trump says is projection, it all makes so much more sense. What he says about other people – particularly when he is accusing them of something – is a confession about himself.
This is something my colleague Sarah Kendzior has observed numerous times, too.
My colleague Peter Daou sums it up thus:
Trump overtly talks and talks and talks about himself – and when he talks about other people, he’s still talking about himself. It’s just that he’s projecting his own flaws and failures onto them.
When he calls Hillary a “bigot,” he is really talking about himself. When he says that Hillary gives speeches that are devoid of policy, he is really talking about himself. When he accuses her of asserting that she has claimed to be able to solve systemic injustice, he is projecting onto her the claims he’s made.
And sometimes he gives away the game, tacitly acknowledging a criticism of him that has been made, only to flip it around and accuse Hillary (or someone else on his radar) of being the “only one” deserving of that criticism.
One of his favorite – and oft-repeated – bits of projection is the assertion that the media are being unfair to him and giving him terrible coverage, despite the fact that the media have been tipping the scales for him, giving him less negative coverage than Hillary, after decades of subjecting her to unfair coverage.
It’s been estimated that Trump had gotten $2 billion of free press by March of this year, and yet still he bitterly projects that it is Hillary who is treated with kid gloves.
He doesn’t even pause to consider how foolish what he’s saying actually is. The media are “against” him, and yet “virtually everyone” is reporting his unfair treatment. How does that work?
He undercuts his own argument – because, the truth is, he’s not talking about himself. He’s talking about his opponent, about whom Mark Halperin, the quintessential media insider, recently conceded: “There’s a deep well of anti-Clinton sentiment in the press.”
Every negative thing Trump says about Hillary is a disclosure about himself. The answer to the ubiquitous rhetorical “how can he so utterly lack self-awareness” is that he doesn’t. He knows himself very well indeed. He just projects his worst qualities onto other people.
Hillary said in her powerful speech detailing his mainstreaming of white nationalism that “there’s no other Donald Trump. This is it.” He has, she noted, “shown us exactly who he is. We should believe him.”
And we should closely watch what he says about other people, because he is always telling us something about himself.
These unintentional disclosures are a warning to us about who he really is.