"Psychological projection" -- a psychological defense mechanism whereby one "projects" one's own undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, feelings, and so on onto someone else.
Projection has become the Republican Party's signature mode of attack. On a host of issues, including the "war on women," Medicare, "class warfare" and more, the GOP's response to Democratic has been to say, in the words of Talking Points Memo's Benjy Sarlin, "I know you are, but what am I?"
Time and again, Republicans have adopted policies that -- while appealing to their evermore extreme and authoritarian base -- are very unpopular with Americans more broadly. Their response to this political conundrum has been, time again, both to lie about their own proposals and to accuse Democrats of that which Republicans themselves are guilty.
Take Medicare. The Affordable Care Act includes a projected half a trillion dollars in savings through a variety of mechanisms, including changes in reimbursement rates to hospitals and by reducing over-payments to private Medicare advantage plans. Those changes do not reduce benefits to Medicare-eligible individuals. But that hasn't stopped Republicans, including Mitt Romney, from repeatedly attacking President Obama for gutting Medicare. Meanwhile, the Republican Party, including Romney, have wholeheartedly embraced the Paul Ryan budget which will "reform" Medicare by shifting more and more of the burden of rising health care costs onto seniors while undermining the long-term fiscal stability of the prog. cover the rising cost of health care. So how do Republicans deal with this obvious political liability? By accusing Democrats of that which Republicans are guilty, of course.
Likewise, after the orgy of proposed GOP legislative efforts in Congress and around the country earlier this year to restrict women's access to contraceptives and family planning services more broadly, Republicans have found themselves -- shock of shocks -- on the very short end of support from women voters. So, what did they do, once they got done ducking for cover in the wake of Rush Limbaugh's mind-blowing sexist eruption? They lied in order to accuse Democrats of that which they were guilty, of course. This time, the lie was that it was Obama who had declared a war on because, allegedly, women have suffered most of the job losses under Obama. That the claim was utterly absurd is besides the point, because the GOP's modus operandi is, on virtually every issue, to duck accountability for their obnoxious positions and to accuse their opponents of that which the GOP is itself guilty.
One of my personal favorites in this regard was a Republican effort last year, repeated by GOP talking heads ad nauseam, to characterize Obama as having an "obsession" with raising taxes. Yes, they're talking about that Obama, the one who signed on to the extension of the Bush tax cuts, included numerous tax reductions, like the make-work-pay credit in his 2009 stimulus, and has had to fight with a reluctant GOP to pass and extend payroll tax reductions. This is hardly the record of a man "obsessed" with raising taxes. Obsession, on the other hand, is exactly the appropriate word for the GOP's relationship to tax cuts, particularly when it comes to corporations and rich people. The party has made it a tenet of religious faith that taxes on "job creators" must be cut under all circumstances as a proposed cure for all ills (and speaking of actual obsessions with raising taxes, how about the GOP's new-found urge to raise taxes on the poor)?
An old staple of the Republican Party has been its insistence that liberals are engaged in "class warfare." Yep, the party that has pushed relentlessly to fatten the wallets of the already-wealthy at the expense of everyone else -- they're the ones screaming class warfare about their opponents. A classic in the realm of projection-based politics.
The list is endless and it'd be nice if those covering political campaigns didn't pretend that such obvious manifestations of guilt-deflection by deception were serious political arguments.