From the Projection Booth
Projection is a classic psychological condition is which the patient, unable to deal with certain behavioral patterns, unconsciously projects these characteristics onto others. It was my ex-wife, God bless her, who first made me aware of this thirty years ago. She said whenever people accuse you or criticize you of something, it’s because they recognize their own actions, even though they’re unaware of it.
Republicans have been using projection against political opponents for decades, but in this case it’s very conscious and deliberate. It’s a clever strategy, as it works for them both as offense and defense. They will accuse the Democrats of what they themselves are doing, then if the Democrats respond, “But that’s what YOU are doing!” it tends to make them look foolish (I assure you, the Democrats need no help looking foolish). MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow calls it “the I’m rubber, you’re glue” argument.
I want to be clear that when I talk about the Republicans, I am not talking about actual Republicans. These ideologues today are not your father’s Republicans, who were true conservatives believing in smaller government by ending waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayers’ money. They wouldn’t stand for the government reading all your emails, peeking into your bedrooms to see if you were having the right kind of sex, or if you were smoking pot. Today’s Republicans have as much to do with conservatism as table tennis does with tennis. Their idea of small government is to gut all the regulatory agencies, leaving our air and water at the tender mercies of the fossil fuel industry, and privatizing the social safety net.
I’ll give you several examples of how the Right uses projection. I’m also going to show you that sometimes — like those other psychiatric patients — they are unaware that they’re doing it. And I’ll teach you a little Jedi mind trick that you can use to tell just what they’re really thinking.
Karl Rove is one of their master strategists. Known as “Bush’s Brain” (we still have no evidence that Mr. Bush had one of his own), Rove likes to take an opponent’s strength and turn it into a weakness. The “swift-boat” assault on John Kerry in the 2004 election is a perfect example. John Kerry was a decorated hero in Vietnam, but Rove rounded up a bunch of liars who said they’d served with him, and that he was a coward. It was very successful, but it also worked as a projection, because it was actually Bush who was the coward. His father kept him out of Vietnam by using his influence to get him into the Texas Air National Guard, and he couldn’t even be bothered to show up for that; he was AWOL much of the time.
Fox alleged News uses projection like a junkie uses heroin. Here’s Bill O’Reilly, saying that liberals believe “you don’t talk unless you agree with us.” Have you ever watched him? He’s a prototypical bully; you don’t talk unless you agree with him, or he’ll shout you down. Then there’s Sean Hannity, saying the Left is better funded and more ideologically driven. Better funded? From whom? George Soros and what little is left of the unions? The Right, who speak for corporate fascism, has near unlimited money from billionaires like the Koch Brothers, the oil, gas, and coal companies, agribusiness, the pharmaceutical industry, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, the health insurance industry, Wall Street and the big banks. Ideologically driven? Pot, please meet kettle! Another Fox sound-bite: “Liberals say they’re for free speech, but if you say anything against them, they’ll attack you viciously.” If that isn’t Fox’s modus operandi, I’ll eat my hat.
The Right keeps on about how the Left spews out hate rhetoric, but it’s well over 900 radio stations across the U.S. spewing out hate rhetoric 24/7, led by Jabba the Rush. They like to go on about activist judges, too. Yet it was the conservative Supreme Court who stopped the Florida recount in 2000, and appointed George W. Bush the unelected, illegitimate President, in complete contravention of states’ rights, one of their most sacred of cows.
Let’s look at Mitt Romney, who calls President Obama out of touch. Mitt Romney, whose every single awkward attempt to appear even vaguely human, let alone humane, is cringeworthy, at best. He accuses Obama of spending too much time at Harvard. Mitt has two degrees from Harvard, to Obama’s one. Mitt Romney, who likes being able to fire people, wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt, whose wife Ann “drives a couple Cadillacs, actually,” and said the foreclosure crisis could be solved by letting it bottom out, then investors could buy up the properties and rent them. Mitt Romney says Obama is out of touch. That’s rich; pun intended.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, as beady-eyed, rodent-faced little fascist as ever there was, is facing a recall election. He’s been whining about out-of-state money coming in to defeat him, when he’s been the recipient of over $20 million from out-of-state, mostly from his two bastard fathers, the Koch Brothers.
For months now, these filthy, goddamned Republicans have waged an all-out war against women’s rights to their own reproductive systems, while accusing Democrats of “playing politics with women’s issues.” They not only have no shame, they haven’t an ounce of humanity, either. Yet Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) projects that Obama is the one pitting Americans against one another.
Of all these projections, by far the most egregious is the accusation that liberals hate America, that they’re unpatriotic. It is obvious to anyone with even minimal brain function that it’s the Republicans who continually show open hostility to all things we think of as American values — public schools, the idea of a social safety net for people who fall through the cracks, the middle class, the rights of workers to have a decent wage and a safe workplace, and the very idea of equal rights for all.
As for that Jedi mind trick, it’s no trick at all, really. If you want to know what Republicans are thinking, simply listen to their accusations of others. It’s not completely foolproof, though. When they accuse Obama of being a socialist, Marxist, Kenyan Muslim, it’s not that they are any of these. That’s not projection, either, but a different technique known as the “straw man” argument. Since they can’t attack Obama on what he’s been able to accomplish in the face of rock-hard obstructionism from his first day in office, they just make stuff up. Hey, that’s just what Sarah Palin said of the Democrats.
“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Maya Angelou