...a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people.
A few examples:
Mitt Romney calling Gingrich extraordinarily unreliable
Glenn Greenwald calling anyone who disagrees with him a cultist
Newt Gingrich calling President Obama a radical
Mitt Romney accusing President Obama of deliberately harming the country for political reasons
Notice how its always used to attack an opponent. The truth is that most often rather than weakening an opponent, it shows your own vulnerability. Not only that, it demonstrates the weakness of your ideas in having to resort to this kind of attack.
Many of these might really be Freudian in a psychological sense. In other words, they might truly be unconscious. And then there's Karl Rove...who has taken projection to a whole new level. A while ago Steve Benen provided a good summary.
Rove has spent his professional life engaged in political sleaze, so he's accused Obama of adding "arsenic to the nation's political well." Rove ran a White House that embraced a "permanent campaign," so he's accused the Obama team of embracing a "permanent campaign." Rove embraced the politics of fear, so he's accused Obama of embracing the politics of fear. Rove relied on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted " political events, so he's accused Obama of relying on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted" political events. Rove looked at every policy issue "from a political perspective," so he's accused Obama of looking at every policy issue "from a political perspective." Rove snubbed news outlets that he considered partisan, so he's accused Obama of snubbing snubbed news outlets that he considered partisan. Rove had a habit of burying bad news by releasing it late on Friday afternoons, so he's accused Obama of burying bad news by releasing it late on Friday afternoons. Rove questioned the motives of those with whom he disagreed, so he's accused Obama of questioning the motives of those with whom he disagrees.
Click through to Benen's article and you'll find links for his back-up on all this.
What feels different about Rove is that I think this is a deliberate strategy on his part. In throwing out these attacks, he's making it difficult to accuse his side of the same thing because it winds up sounding defensive. So its an inoculation move that he thinks will allow him to get away with the very things he's accusing others of doing.
I'll hand it to him...its a shrewd strategy. But its also souless and only works if we stay ignorant about what he's up to.