An extremely weird thing for Trump to say—sounds like projection to me
From Amy Davidson’s excellent column in the New Yorker:
In his first ten minutes in the Manheim rally, he appealed directly to Bernie Sanders voters. But he couldn’t help but call him “Crazy Bernie,” and inform the audience that “we have much bigger crowds” than Sanders had.
In fact, in Manheim, Trump suggested that there was something insane about any scenario in which a person like Hillary Clinton thought that she had the right to seek a high political office. “Now, she’s got bad temperament. She’s got—she could be crazy. She could actually be crazy,” Trump said. He added, “We need somebody who is strong. We need somebody that knows what they’re doing.”
First, he attempts to woo those who supported Bernie Sanders, many of whom, like myself, have great respect for Sanders’s efforts to return government to its mission: promoting the general welfare rather than rolling over for the 0.1%. And the way he chooses to convince Sanders supporters to join the Trump campaign is to tell them Bernie is crazy. I think this is purely and simply and obviously stupid, but it’s a special kind of stupidity: it’s the stupidity exhibited by a person who does not understand the first thing about human personal relationships, and it’s also (along with the later comment) something said by someone who has “being crazy” on his mind.
He obviously is thinking about the possibility that someone is crazy, so it’s very accessible in his mind as he talks, and I imagine he’s thinking about it for a very good reason: his words and actions are being reflected back to him by the media, and over time I think it must become evident even to him how very, very far out of his depth and out of his league he is. Obviously, this is not something a narcissist would admit, but at this point it must be getting hard to ignore the signs that he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about of what he should do, either in his campaign or should he become president: it’s a tiger on whose tail he maintains a weakening grip. His self-deception seems to move further and further into fantasy, with the deceptions obvious to others and harder to accept even for him.
And then think about his demand that “We need somebody that knows what they’re doing.” I think that reveals another thought that is on his mind: he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and that is revealed over and over in his misstatements, vacuous foreign policy utterances, and so on.
I think what we see in his statements is pretty clearly projection. And look at this paragraph, which follow the above quotation:
And, again, his picture of her corruption was made stranger by his presumption of her lack of real agency or original ideas: “Hillary Clinton is merely a vessel for those global special interests trying to strip our country of its wealth, its jobs, its status”—he emphasized that word—“as a sovereign nation.” Beyond the gender implications, the vesseling of Clinton has the effect of making the conspiracy she is supposedly part of sound all the more insidious and far-reaching. After all, the explanation for her wanting to be President couldn’t simply be that she has policy goals of her own. (Trump, at another point in the speech, said of Clinton, “She’s never done anything meaningful.”) In this scenario, there must be something else going on, something involving money and men who were out of sight—foreigners, too.
Emphasis added, and again that’s pretty clearly projection. The high point of his career in real estate turned out to be his ability to make a creditable claim to have lost close to $1 billion dollars in his personal income in one year. He recovered from that debacle by licensing his name to be put on just about anything (from steaks to wine to education-for-profit scams) and also by being a reality show host. You can see where it might occur to him to think about whether one’s life has been meaningful or not. I think narcissism must get its power from severe personal anxiety and negative esteem. That is, in Donald Trump’s ceaseless self-praise, he doth protest too much, don’t you think? Perhaps he continually harps on how very great he is because on some level he knows that if he didn’t say it, no one would realize it.
I’m reminded of Daniel Goleman’s Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception. (Link is to inexpensive secondhand copies.) In the preface he provides an account of a young woman who is deceiving herself and the transparency (to others) of those deceptions. Like deceiving yourself that you’re a foreign policy expert and military strategist, or that you warned before the Iraq invasion that the war was a mistake and would destabilize the Mideast. Probably those work as self-deceptions, but transparent to those who won’t go along.