When a lie is repeated often enough, many people will eventually mistake it for the truth. President Donald Trump lies so often that even he may not know when he’s lying or actually telling the truth. But that doesn’t matter as long as his tens of millions of followers believe almost anything he says.
More than any politician in recent memory, President Trump is fond of making up unflattering nick-names for his political rivals. “Crooked Hillary” Clinton and “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz are two of his favorites.
What’s especially interesting about these two appellations is that they much more accurately describe Trump himself. While Cruz’s truthfulness would not come close to that of George I-cannot-tell-a-lie Washington, many Americans would aptly describe our current president as Donald-I-cannot-tell-the-truth Trump.
Similarly, while Hillary Clinton’s business dealings were seemingly never free of taint, by comparison with those of Trump’s they would seem pure as the driven snow. For decades his standard business practice was to pay his construction contractors just three-quarters of what he owed them, knowing that few could afford an expensive years-long legal battle to recover the withheld payments.
Psychologists have a textbook term for ascribing one’s own negative personal traits to others. They call it projection. Trump, a decades-long liar and crook, repeatedly attempted to project his own negative traits on to his political enemies by repeatedly calling them liars and crooks, knowing that his followers will somehow not realize who is the much bigger liar and crook.
The objective of another type of Trump’s name-calling is enhancing his own stature by diminishing those of his political opponents. “Little Marco” Rubio and “Liddle Bob” Corker are prime exhibits. Senators Corker and Rubio should not be taken as seriously, because by some physical measurement they are not as large as Donald Trump. Trump may have been the first president in history to boast of being taller or having larger “hands” than an opponent.
If and when Mr. Trump goes to Korea to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jung-un, it will be interesting to see how he addresses his adversary. Perhaps those negotiations might be more successful if Trump refrains from addressing him as “Little rocket man.”
About the Author
Steve Slavin has a PhD in economics from NYU, and taught for over thirty years at Brooklyn College, New York Institute of Technology, and New Jersey’s Union County College. He has written sixteen math and economics books including a widely used introductory economics textbook now in its eleventh edition (McGraw-Hill) and The Great American Economy (Prometheus Books) which was published in August.