University psychology professors are lucky to have Donald Trump in the White House.
Now when they teach the principle of “psychological projection” — defined by Wikipedia as “a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others” — they have a perfect real-life example to demonstrate the principle in action.
An astute professor could use the details provided by The Washington Post in a story today that portrays the president as an enthusiastic tour guide for White House visitors — a role that he should perhaps take on as a full-time job since he’s better qualified for it than he is for his current role — to give their students concrete lessons in how projection manifest itself.
Trump’s sudden ardor for the presidential mansion that he once called “a real dump” is quite ironic, but apparently, the notoriously fidgety president would rather conduct tours for visitors than sit behind a desk and actually work at his actual job.
“Most people want to keep parts of the White House private for their families and themselves,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said of previous presidents. “He’s very restless and doesn’t like desk work. He’d rather roam around and B.S. with people than hunker down,” he said of Trump.
Among the more interesting tidbits that The Washington Post story reveals is that when Trump is showing visitors the Oval Office he often grinningly opens a door near his desk to show them where former President Bill Clinton began his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Given the multiple sexual assault allegations against President Trump, he’s hardly one to gloat over the incident that led to the unsuccessful impeachment proceedings against Clinton, particularly since Trump has much more serious issues to worry about that will hopefully lead to impeachment proceedings of his own.
However, the most telling example of psychological projection on the president’s guided tours comes when he ushers guests into the private dining room off the Oval Office. He tells visitors — without any evidence— that the room was in “rough shape” when he arrived in the White House and had a hole in the wall.
According to two White House officials and two other people who have heard Trump discuss the Oval Office dining room, the president tells his guests that his predecessor President Barrack Obama used the room to watch sports.
“He just sat in here and watched basketball all day,” Trump told a recent group, before saying he upgraded Obama’s smaller TV to a sprawling, flat-screen one, the four people said,” according to The Post.
The Post also noted that “an Obama White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Obama does not generally respond to Trump’s remarks, said that there was no hole in the wall and that Obama rarely worked in the room and did not watch basketball there.”
With Trump having introduced the concept of “executive time” to the White House — a euphemism for the mornings when he sits in bed and live tweets “Fox & Friends” before finally showing up to work at around 11 AM — his false insinuations about Obama’s TV viewing habits are textbook examples of psychological projection at its finest.
Psychology professors around the world should thank Trump for making their jobs just a little bit easier. The rest of us can just sit by and watch in horror.
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Original reporting by Josh Dawsey at The Washington Post.