December 11, 2019

In Dick We Trust

We already know how Republicans will run against Hillary Clinton, because Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is busily banging that drum.

“Hillary Clinton is, quite frankly, someone the American people can’t trust,” he “>video proves why you can’t trust Hillary Clinton,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “We already know from recent polls that a majority of Americans do not believe she is honest or trustworthy,” he pointed out in “It’s a Matter of Trust,” an “>missing documents from her Arkansas law firm that mysteriously turned up in the White House family quarters, or the sniper fire she said she avoided at a Bosnian airport, an account that turned out to be “just a
Flip-flopping is a garden variety accusation of pandering, but in the context of this dishonesty narrative, a change in position has been reframed as a lie.

But this can boomerang. Consider Jeb Bush’s bungled answer to Megyn Kelly’s “>acknowledged that Dick Cheney was lying when he told us in 2003 that Saddam Hussein “has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” Cheney and the neocons (who’ve now set up shop in Jeb Bush’s inner circle) told us there was a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but Morrell “>yellowcake and the uranium “>Frontline documentary), the factory for manufacturing the phony case for war was headquartered in the vice president’s office. Cheney, not W, is the real albatross around the neck of the Republican presidential field.

If untrustworthiness is the attack they themselves are most vulnerable to, why are the Republicans working so hard to sharpen that blade? “Projective identification” is the term psychoanalyst Melanie Klein used to describe how people can unconsciously split off a part of themselves and project it instead onto others. That might be what’s happening here. Reince Priebus looks at Hillary Clinton and sees a deceiver. Dude must not know he’s looking in the mirror.  

Marty Kaplan is the Norman Lear professor of entertainment, media and society at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.  Reach him at