October 11, 2018
I can’t quote it exactly, but one of La Rouchefoucauld’s maxims goes something like this: The faults we see most readily in others are our own.
Today that personal dynamic is called projection. Projection is the unconscious psychological coping mechanism that foists off on others one’s own undesirable internal feelings. Yesterday in an article in the New York Times, Peter Baker applies the word projection to Donald Trump. He notes that at recent rallies Trump has called Democrats “angry,” a “mob,” “wacko,” “mentally deranged”—the exact criticism that has been leveled at Trump himself during his months in office. Six days ago, he tweeted that the two women who confronted Senator Jeff Flake at the elevator were “paid professionals,” apparently forgetting that he once hired Tony Schwartz to ghostwrite The Art of the Deal. September 25, standing on the steps of the United Nations building in New York City, Trump said that the Democrats and the women who had accused Brett Kavanaugh were playing “a con game—they are really con artists.” Has he forgotten that Marco Rubio repeatedly called him a “con artist” during the 2016 campaign, and that the New Yorker published a prominent article in March of 2016 entitled, “Donald Trump, Con Artist?”
The easiest rhetorical trick is to accuse your opponent of your own faults, easy because also psychologically consoling.
Please let me know if you can identify the exact maxim of La Rouchefoucauld.