Speaking last week in Bridgeport, CT Trump revealed in this slip-of-the-tongue that he may really know that his chances of winning are slim to none. It may seem like a small matter, an apostrophe double LL vs. an apostrophe D. However, she’ll means “she will” and “she’d” means “she would.” Arrogant and narcissistic as he is, as a gambling man he is also smart enough to know she will most likely be our next president. Thus, he “meant” to say Hillary would be the worst president ever (just like, according to him, she was the worst Secretary of State ever. But the slip suggest he knows she is going to win.
Before you comment that I am blowing this way out of proportion, remember that I am writing as a psychoanalytically informed psychotherapist* and for me such errors in utterances are something like the telling micro-expressions FBI experts learn to recognize. Of course in TV shows like “Lie To Me" they are never wrong in spotting a lie. In psychology recognizing the meaning of slips is not a sure science. But they give analytically oriented therapists something to consider and sometimes share with their patients to help them gain insight to their unconscious processes.
Therapists don’t know with surety what a slip means, just like they don’t absolutely know what a dream means. However they give us clues as to what might cause a person’s distress and also underlie dysfunctional behavior.
My friends and I end up discussing Trump almost every morning at our coffee shop. (Shoutout to staff and friends at Waterfalls Cafe coffee shop at Willamette View). As Trump continues to make comments that would seem guaranteed to assure doom in the general election, more and more we question whether he really wants to have such a difficult job. Writing as a psychoanalytically informed psychotherapist I know that often is a person’s motivation for isn’t clear cut. Even when someone consciously believes they are pursuing a goal for clear reasons, there may be ambivalence.
Ambivalence may be conscious or unconscious. If it is unconscious, someone may end up doing things that are likely to sabotage achieving their goals. It’s possible this was the case with Trump when he began campaigning and kept saying things that would have ended the campaign of a traditional candidate. Can you imagine anybody besides Trump disparaging John McCain’s war record and not plummeting in the polls the next day? So far, campaigning appears to have been a never-ending happy endings ego massage for him. To paraphrase the Beach Boys classic, he may know (at least at some level) it will have been “fun, fun, fun” until reality takes his T-Bird away.
I don’t doubt that he believes he is the smartest and most capable person on earth. However he is also a hedonist, and being responsible for the future of the free world doesn’t leave a lot of time for relaxation and pleasure, even if you’ve taken the leap from flying in a mere 757 with your name on it to a 747 that has the U.S. Presidential Seal and says “The United States of America” on it. On the former you can relax with your 24k gold plated fixtures, on Air Force One you have the nuclear codes and actually have the weight of the world on you.
If by some insanely malevolent alignment of the stars Trump wins, and wakes up on the day after his inauguration and realizes he has to make far more consequential decisions then about buying devalued real estate, he might just ask himself whether this is how he really wants to spend the next four years of his life.
* Before retiring I was an MSW clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and mental health center director. I write a blog immodestly named after myself about a variety of topics and often share my thoughts about polities as a Daily Kos diary. I welcome comments.