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POTUS Tweets Like a Blog Commenter

Twitter FacebookI saw this tweet on FB yesterday:

It reminded me of some of the comments I have seen on this blog over the years, and especially some I have seen very recently. This is basically a deflection (Look! THEY did it too!). But, it is almost always a lame example. There is a difference (to state the obvious) to a US Senator being at a public event with the Russian President and the current storm around Sessions.

To make a quick list:

1) It is not common for a foreign ambassador to meet with a US Senator (although, I will allow that the meeting itself really isn’t the problem).

2) Sessions was asked, under oath, a question that should have resulted in a a clear answer about his encounters with the Russian ambassador.

3) Context matters. First, the general context is one of ongoing allegations and concerns that the Russian government sought to influence the presidential campaign. Second, one Trump administration official set a record for brevity in his office over this very issue.

So no, Mr. President, the issue is not contact with the Russians. This should be obvious to all involved.

This is, in fact, another example of Trump deploying the tu quoque logical fallacy (i.e., the notion that charges of hypocrisy are some kind of defense).  In other words, the notion that one can defend one’s actions by pointing out that someone else did it too.  While this is a favorite among siblings (as any parent can attest), the reality is even if it is true that someone committed the same action in the past, it does not absolve a repeat of that action.  To stick with the parental paradigm:  two wrongs don’t make a right.

And, or course, the reality is that Schumer’s donut summit with Putin roughly a decade and a half ago is not the same thing as Sessions’ Russian encounters for reasons noted above.  (And that statement is true even if it ends up the meetings themselves were innocuous).

Ultimately, this is a favorite of the president, and of people who either are a) guilty of a given allegation, and therefore have no real defense, and/or b) aren’t very good at making actual arguments.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    POTUS Tweets Like a Blog Commenter

    Excuse me, Steven, but I take offense to that!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  2. rachel says:

    Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump 4h4 hours ago

    Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone.

    OMFG, how dumb is this guy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  3. Jack says:

    Ultimately, this is a favorite of the president, and of people who either are a) guilty of a given allegation, and therefore have no real defense, and/or b) aren’t very good at making actual arguments.

    Steven, It’s odd how you didn’t post this horseshit when everyone was comparing Hillary’s private server to Powell’s use of AOL.

    Yes, even you are a hypocrite.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 20

  4. @Jack: Congrats for being the first in the thread to use the logical fallacy on display here.

    I will assume that you are just trying to help us all understand how it works?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 44 Thumb down 0

  5. Scott O says:

    Terrible! Just found out that Trump has been sneaking into my house overnight and stealing cheetos. This is McCarthyism!

    The man is effing crazy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. @Franklin: Well, “Some” blog commenters… 😉

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. Jack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: It’s not a logical fallacy to state the fact that Hillary Clinton did indeed use a private server. The logical fallacy is the response made numerous times right here by liberals, that Powell used a private AOL email account. To which, you did not accuse those frequent responders of committing.

    No, you choose to drag that overused label out only to protect those whom The Donald accuses because he wasn’t your choice for president. Your hypocrisy knows no bounds when you want to project nastiness upon this president.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 25

  8. Slugger says:

    Sen. Schumer has offered to testify under oath about his meetings with Russian officials if Mr. Trump will do the same. This seems like a great solution to this issue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  9. @Jack: But, the point you are failing to understand is that it has nothing to do with the contents of this post.

    You are deflecting and, in terms of making valid points in an argument, simply digging a deeper hole.

    You entire position is utterly irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

    (It is further bizarre, and a tad amusing, that your defense, such as it is, is to go to HRC and her e-mails).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  10. @Jack: I would further suggest you look up what “logical fallacy” means.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Jack:

    The logical fallacy is the response made numerous times right here by liberals, that Powell used a private AOL email account.

    Jack, a statement like this might make someone think you don’t know a logical fallacy from a fogical lallacy….

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  12. @James Pearce: The hilarious thing is that he is proving my post title to be accurate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  13. Argon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: He probably can’t name which fallacy it is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  14. MarkedMan says:

    Sorry to add to the tangent, but lest anyone be confused by Jack, for the record: Powell did use a private AOL email account to conduct government business when he was SOS, he did erase all those emails, and he did recommend, in writing, that HRC also use a private email account.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  15. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The hilarious thing is that he is proving my post title to be accurate.

    It’s almost like you’re the empire and Jack is Admiral Ackbar.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  16. Hal_10000 says:

    It’s been said for a long time that Trump is basically a Youtube comment section that has achieved sentience.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  17. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You do understand that talking to Jack is a waste of time and computer bytes, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Argon: He probably doesn’t know what a fallacy is, but is sure that it has to do with the size of his package (which, he would probably assure you, he receives no complaints about from his Hispanic wife, Asian girlfriend, or whatever).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Joe says:

    @Hal_10000: Barely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: Yes, I know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. (I just can’t help myself sometimes).

    Sigh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. DrDaveT says:

    @rachel:

    OMFG, how dumb is this guy?

    Wrong question. It doesn’t matter how dumb Trump is; what matters is how dumb his followers are. Unfortunately, we have yet to plumb the depths of that particular abyss.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. Slugger says:

    I just figured out what Putin is thinking in that picture with Schumer. “I told him I want Donetz, and that sookin sin gives me pastry! I am dealing with the other party from now on.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Many of my best friends are blog commenters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. Just 'nutha ign'int cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Please note, I DO empathize.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Jack works so very hard to demonstrate that all of the things that he believes to be true aren’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Pch101 says:

    This is, in fact, another example of Trump deploying the tu quoque logical fallacy (i.e., the notion that charges of hypocrisy are some kind of defense). In other words, the notion that one can defend one’s actions by pointing out that someone else did it too. While this is a favorite among siblings (as any parent can attest), the reality is even if it is true that someone committed the same action in the past, it does not absolve a repeat of that action. To stick with the parental paradigm: two wrongs don’t make a right.

    This must be part of what Trump learned from Roy Cohn. Trump defends himself by changing the subject; it’s his way of counterattacking when he has no defense (and he usually has no defense due to the fact that he lies constantly.)

    Trump’s opponents should respond similarly: The details of Trump’s claims should be ignored, as responding to them merely wastes a lot of time and caters to his efforts to change the subject. Stay on message and be clear that Trump is a liar who won’t distract us from the truth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0