Of course Hillary Clinton could use the “loose cannon” nickname, but a more psychologically accurate one would be “the great deflector” an intentionally snide polar opposite to Ronald Reagan being “the great communicator” (more about Reagan later).
Here is why it’s relevant.
In close to forty years as a practicing psychiatrist specializing in treating people with personality disorders who drive others crazy, I have observed a very consistent pattern. The more a person calls someone else a name, the more they are hiding something and trying to deflect the focus off them.
It usually works and here’s how it has been working for Trump thus far.
Every time he calls someone else a scathing name, our attention shifts from Trump to the other person and to what his or her reaction will be. In fact, we so identify with being in the target’s position and we so imagine what we would say and do in response that we all but ignore what Trump actually said as we “rubber neck” to see how his intended victim will respond.
Will he sputter or almost whine like Jeb Bush? Will he be at a loss like Marco Rubio with words that carry no punch? Will he intensify an already annoying, grating and almost “nails on a chalkboard” nasal toned Ted Cruz? Will she add a “b-word” snapping quality to her already near belligerent tone like Carly Fiorina? Will she do everything she can to resist the ever-so-tempting, but career-ending response of, “You Mr. Trump are an ignorant pr—k!” from a Megan Kelly?
It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we immediately turn our focus to the targeted victim and become fixated on them.
And the takeaway for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders if they are to respond to Trump?
Adopt the famed Ronald Reagan response to Jimmy Carter of, “There you go again.” And given the psychological fact that nearly all people who name call others are hiding something at that exact moment, I would suggest Clinton or Sanders add the following when speaking to a reporter: “Oh there he goes again. I wonder what he’s hiding now” and then use it more directly when the debates come with a: “Oh there you go again. My, my... Donald what a-r-e (said mockingly) you hiding now?”
Or if you’re the candidate, Hillary, take a page out of the Scarlet O’Hara playbook, let Trump throw out his “crooked Hillary” nickname, pause to show that you were unfazed by it and respond in the most southern belle accent you can muster, “Oh fiddly dee Mr. Trump, now there you go again.” That’s an “f word” you can use without the least “b word” connotation.
Then let’s see what comes out of his eyes.