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Bill Clinton, the Great Projector

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I hope all of you are following Justin Frank's Huffington Post blog on which he's previewing his latest book, Politics On the Couch. Dr. Frank is asking readers to comment on his posts, which include new sections of the book as he writes them, and to give him comments, suggestions, and feedback, which he promises to incorporate in the final, printed version of the book if the suggestions are reasonable.

This is an innovative new model for publishing in which readers can participate in a conversation with a respected author before the publication of a book and have some impact on the final product. I'm enjoying his insightful posts and am finding that giving Dr. Frank feedback is an intellectually stimulating experience that makes me a more thorough and thoughtful reader. I find I learn more if I'm reading more carefully than usual.

Justin Frank is a noted psychiatrist and author of the best selling book Bush on the Couch, which in my view provided penetrating insight into George W. Bush's personality and character. Currently, he's writing about politics on the psychiatrists couch, and the first couple of installments were right on target, especially the June 2nd one on projection.

Dr. Frank writes:

Projection is an unconscious effort to look for an outside cause rather than an internal one -- it often results in blaming or fearing others in order to protect the self from recognizing unwanted impulses, usually of destructive nature. Using this mechanism helps us manage anxiety by mobilizing our aggression against internal threats we now perceive as external.

That same day, Bill Clinton called Todd Purdum, the author of an article about the ex-president in the current issue of Vanity Fair, a "Sleazy, Slimy, Scumbag." Now, how's that for a perfect example of projection -- of someone projecting one's own traits onto someone else. Bill Clinton, the Great Projector.