Let's stay civil and on subject. This thread isn't about what Obama did or the Clinton Foundation. I appreciate this comment, but it's inevitable. Does anyone actually know why there always ends up being efforts to highlight perceived double standards or hypocrisy?
I thinks itís natural when somebody expresses outrage, yet didnít under similar circumstances previously. Itís legit to wonder if theyíre truly outraged, or whether theyíre exaggerating to score political points.
Natural, maybe, but it needs to be called for what it is in a political debate: totally irrelevant. It's literally a logical fallacy in the most formal sense- "tu quoque". Now popularly know as "whataboutism". Of course, these days I'm an elitist if I get too debate-team-y on the Internet.
Both sides do it, of course, but I find special irony when the personal responsibility advocates make it a go-to move. God forbid the POTUS be judged on his own merits.
We teach kids on the playground that "he started it" or "he did it first" aren't valid excuses, and yet, it's in practically everything political thread like clockwork. Sigh.
Itís more a recognition that the person youíre debating has no principles. If somebody canít say ďyes, _______ was wrong when he did something similarĒ, then s/he is part of the problem. Whataboutism isnít used to excuse behavior, itís to show people what giant, shallow hypocrites they are. Pointing out hypocrisy and a lack of principled argument seems to have a place in a debate.
No, actually it really doesn't. It's a logical fallacy and would be dismissed as such in a formal setting.
Now don't get me wrong, every discussion isn't a formal debate, but whataboutism is rarely constructive, and if on top of that you're just out to prove that other people are hypocrites then congratulations, you're tossing ad hominem attacks into the mix and just trying to feel superior.
I'm sure some people will roll their eyes at "tu quoque" and "ad hominem" and so forth, but the terms exist for a reason. They are known to be weak arguments and deflections from real debate.
At some point, it becomes "my guy took a dump in the road, but you can't complain because I heard your guy did too", and now we're living in the idiocracy.
TL;DR; whataboutism is weak sauce, shows a lack of real argument, and isn't the same as simply pointing out hypocrisy on occasion.
Eh, you're interpreting this logical fallacy too broadly here, and you're also not taking into consideration the context, which you alluded to in your "formal debate" comment. From a purely formal logical perspective, sure, these types of analogical arguments are weak (or even fallacious in certain contexts) and are considered insufficient to conclusively justify an argument and prove a conclusion.
However, we're talking about practical moral reasoning
here, and per the universal/consistency/equality criterion of most moral systems (i.e. moral standards should hold equally and consistently for all parties in similar circumstances), pointing out the hypocrisy of others in similar situations is absolutely a relevant component of moral debate.
As I stated above, you're absolutely correct that this type of analogical argument is insufficient to prove a conclusion or justify a certain action or behavior, and many times it is essentially used as a "red herring" meant to deflect away from addressing the original critique of their logical argument, in which case it would certainly be a bonafide logical fallacy.
However, to suggest that this type of analogical argument has no place in practical moral reasoning (which is the majority of political arguments) is mistaken and shortsighted, because moral arguments of this type rely on some sort of universality and consistency in order to be enforceable and acceptable. Roy is correct in his argument that this type of analogical argument highlights the unprincipled and hypocritical nature of the opposition, because why would you find someone else's argument compelling if they weren't held to the same moral standard in a similar situation?
So you're both correct: while these types of analogical arguments are insufficient to prove a conclusion and should not be utilized to deflect away from arguments, they are absolutely useful and relevant to practical moral reasoning, because if people are unwilling to consistently act with the same moral standards that they hold you to, then there's no reason to give any weight to their argument.
EDIT: And let me just say that I *hate* that the concept of "whataboutism" has received so much attention lately. This logical concept is only relevant in certain situations with specific motivations, yet people regularly misapply it to any type of inductive analogical reasoning, which ticks me off due to how prevalent this type of logical reasoning is in human rationality.