What's that you say, tu quoque?

The most common replies to anything said here is as below. Everyone is guilty of it on both sides of the political divide. But it’s the most common and predictable feature of any political discussion and it’s boring as hell. Any real discussion of current events should not attract a kneejerk “but Hillary/Obama…” reply. What’s going on now should be discussed on it’s own merits!

Tu Quoque (Logical Fallacy) - Definition and Examples

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

Updated February 15, 2018

A type of ad hominem argument in which a person turns a charge back on his or her accuser: a logical fallacy. Also called the “you too,” the “two wrongs,” or the “look who’s talking” fallacy.

  • Pronunciation: tu-KWO-kway
  • Also known a s: the two wrongs fallacy, the pot calling the kettle black
  • Etymology: From the Latin, “you too”

For a broader definition of tu quoque arguments, see examples and observations below.

Examples and Observations:

"It is clear that a tu quoque response to an accusation can never refute the accusation.

Consider the following:

Wilma: You cheated on your income tax. Don’t you realize that’s wrong?
Walter: Hey, wait a minute. You cheated on your income tax last year. Or have you forgotten about that?

Walter may be correct in his counter-accusation, but that does not show that Wilma’s accusation is false."
(William Hughes and Jonathan Lavery, Critical Thinking , 5th ed . Broadview, 2008)

“Recently, we highlighted a British journalist’s story about the underside of Dubai’s startling ascent. Some in Dubai called foul, including one writer who wants to remind Britons that their own country has a dark side. After all, what to think of a country in which one-fifth of the population lives in poverty?” (“Dubai’s Rebuttal,” The New York Times, April 15, 2009)

"The tu quoque fallacy occurs when one charges another with hypocrisy or inconsistency in order to avoid taking the other’s position seriously.
For example:

Mother: You should stop smoking. It’s harmful to your health.
Daughter: Why should I listen to you? You started smoking when you were 16!

In this example, the daughter commits the tu quoque fallacy. She dismisses her mother’s argument because she believes her mother is speaking in a hypocritical manner. While the mother may indeed be inconsistent, this does not invalidate her argument."
(Jacob E. Van Vleet, Informal Logical Fallacies: A Brief Guide . University Press of America, 2011)

A Broader Definition of Tu Quoque

“The tu quoque argument or ‘you too’ argument, according to the broader account, can be described as the use of any type of argument to reply in like kind to a speaker’s argument. In other words, if a speaker uses a particular type of argument, say an argument from analogy, then the respondent can turn around and use that same kind of argument against the speaker, and this would be called a tu quoque argument . . … So conceived, the tu quoque argument is quite a broad category that would include other types of argument as well as ad hominem arguments.”
(Douglas N. Walton, Ad Hominem Arguments . University of Alabama Press, 1998)

The Childish Response

"Of all human instincts, not even the urge to say ‘I told you so’ is stronger than the response called tu quoque: ‘Look who’s talking.’ To judge from children, it is innate (‘Cathy says you took her chocolate,’ ‘Yes but she stole my doll’), and we don’t grow out of it . . .

"France has led calls for pressure to be put on the Burmese junta at the security council and through the EU, where foreign ministers discussed the issue yesterday. As part of the push, it has tried to enlist a recalcitrant Russia which, conscious perhaps of Chechnya, has no great wish to be seen criticizing anyone else’s internal affairs. Hence a Russian minister’s response that the next time there were riots in France he would refer the matter to the UN.

“This reply was at once childish, irrelevant, and probably very gratifying.” (Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The Guardian , Oct. 16, 2007)


The past is very relevant as it sets standards. In some countries, drunk driving will get you the death sentence. I’m actually pretty fond of that idea, but we don’t have that. Otto should have checked into the penalty for stealing propaganda posters in North Korea before he did it. The anti-Trumpers want to hold him to a ridiculous standard that nobody else has ever met. They push the narrative that he is corrupt with the fake news media that they control. But the truth is he’s more likely one of the least corrupt President’s in our history. He’s not here to make a fortune, his ego is what is driving him. His transparency is second to none, which I applaud. Some of his low corruption might not even be attributed to him being a higher caliber moral person, but the fact that he’s not a career politician and thus doesn’t have a bunch of swamp friends. And the fact that he’s an outsider and Washington doesn’t like outsiders because he’s taking the job that they want.

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I agree with some of that. There is always historical context, but it’s the kneejerk responses that are not carefully tied to the present that are usually worthless and counterproductive.

Regarding Trump and transparency, why is he fighting to keep his tax returns under wraps? Probably something really damaging, beyond the fact that he’s widely known to have vastly overstated his income and wealth. Why did the WH move his Ukraine call to the top secret server so quickly? Guilty mind there. I could go on and on about Trump’s conflict of interests and other corruption, and yes, collusion. But I think it’s better to let the thing play out and see what happens.

He hasn’t released the tax returns because the left wants it for a fishing expedition. Transparency relates to his public life as President. His private tax returns are none of your business. If he broke any tax laws that would be up to the IRS. I’m sure he took advantage of all of the legal loopholes available to him as all rich guys do. I’m not a fan of the loopholes, I think there should be no loopholes at all. You pay a tax based on your earnings, period. I want to puke when I see Bernie Sanders paying 13.5%. What a hypocrite.

If you look at Trump’s business activities down the years there are tons of shady dealings. It’s endless. And we know Russia interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf, it’s a matter of bipartisan record. I think the possibility of quid pro quos in multiple foreign countries, Russia and Turkey in particular, open him up to tax inspection. No other POTUS had a problem with releasing his returns, so you can’t say Trump is by far the most transparent. He’s just not. In fact, he’s the biggest liar, thousands of documented lies. Lies are by definition obfuscation. So he’s the least transparent POTUS in my view.


As far as sharing tax returns, I guess I can agree with you. But that’s not part of his public life so I’m fine with it. Did Bernie share how he got down to 13.5%? I sure would like to see that. There are probably homeless people paying that much.

I think there is a very very good reason for moving information to a very limited crowd. Because once the crowd gets beyond ten people during this administration, it leaks. But only damaging parts leak, then they say oh you can’t release it all, because sources and methods. Unless it’s Barr’s summary of the Mueller findings that is… The Dems, Deep State Republicans and a viciously unfair media has forced Trump to be very secretive and that isn’t his fault. It’s the asshole who came crying out of a meeting that teetered on brokering a landmark immigration deal, blowing the whole thing up because he had to tell on Trump for saying “shit hole.” So that became the news cycle for a week and any chance of a deal went up in smoke. He’s been bitten so many times and falsely that he’s quite shy and that is quite understandable given the treatment he had to endure. All this with full understanding that he brings a ton on himself with his great and perfect words.

It was his handlers that realized it was a conflict of interest - Trump was setting alarm bells all over the place. And then they move it to state secret level? That’s a coverup. This is really simple stuff. Dangling critical military aid for investigating a political rival? And then covering it up? Impeachable IMO and just part of a longstanding pattern.

Except it’s not the only time a conversation like this was moved to a secret server. If it was, then that’s a cover up, but he’s being doing it for years bc there are leaks all over the white house. As an outsider, Trump has had to deal with more resistance from both sides than any other president in the last century.

But in itself it’s a clear conflict of interest, quid pro quo that breaks his oath of office. And so they should look at every damn thing this WH has stashed there.

Maybe the reason Trump has so many leaks is that he has so many questionable and inappropriate actions.

What? There’s absolutely no standard that’s been set on how or where phone conversations can be kept. What quid pro quo are you talking about? Presidential conversations are privileged, part of the job. I contest the reason there are so many leaks is bc he’s an outsider that does things differently than the status quo. Probably why the whistle blower got the information in the first place, he was working for a democratic candidate in 2016, obviously he could have an ax to grind

It’s okay for that a POTUS can make critical foreign aid, nearly half a billion, conditional on foreign gov’t investigating a political opponent (there was a larger process working on this too) and then scramble file the record of the call on a secret server? It’s basically Watergate all over again. And there’s a whole pattern of behaviour that makes him impeachable for breach of oath, obstruction of justice and more. They should be looking at that server very closely to see what else is in there and where it leads IMO.

Hip Hip Hooray. You made it over.

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You’re taking a LOT of liberties with your conspiracy theory. First off, it was always filed on that server, there was no scramble to do that. Secondly, there was no quid pro quo, you point out where he says “you do this if you want that” and I’ll gladly jump on the impeachment train, until then, it doesn’t exsist. And finally, he openly and freely released the transcript of the call, if he’s trying to cover it up, why do that? He’s being transparent, like it or not.

From what I understand, he doesn’t have to spell it out word for word, euphemisms and whatever a reasonable person would conclude is how they go after organized crime. Pretty appropriate model if you ask me. And sounds like how the Dems will proceed with their articles of impeachment. I guess we’ll all see.

I don’t see anything close to quid pro quo…I can’t wait to see this all play out, the next year is going to be fun reality TV

I agree that there are people who throw out random information as a distraction to the topic at hand. But sometimes its warranted. I’ll give you a case and point, of something I’ve brought up before:

Guy 1: “How could you beat your wife! Any man that would do that is a disgusting coward!”

Guy 2: Pulls out evidence that Guy 1 beats his wife.

Guy 1: “We aren’t talking about me right now! Whataboutism!”

That’s the simplistic view of it. But there are alot of times where people on this board are spitting straight venom and asserting “how could you support a man that does X” or “OMG this makes Trump the most disgusting human ever!” At that point, its pertinent to reach back and show where someone the other person has supported in the past has done the same thing. “How could I support him? Well, since you have experience in this area, tell me how you supported X person when they did the same thing?” And going to the other part, its common for things that are happening in the current administration to be painted as the first or only time in history. Is it always relevant to point out that’s its been done in the past? No…but sometimes it is. But sometimes its just too damn tempting, because people walk right into it. The “kids in cages” thing comes to mind.

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So basically just make it up as they go along, like Adam Schiff did. Or like Michael Cohen when he said “Trump didn’t tell me to do that. But I know its something he would have wanted me to do.”

No I don’t think so. When a POTUS has the awesome power of the state at his disposal, he has loads of people and privileges to help him commit crimes or otherwise coverup. Doesn’t mean he isn’t subject to same kind of prosecution Joe Public would get for involving himself in conspiracies against political rivals. Same preponderance of evidence required and nothing more, near as I can tell.

And just who survives this narcissist creep’s machinations? Who in his inner circle isn’t thrown under the bus forthwith as soon as they stop being useful tools? Is Pence next? Trump turns on everyone, eventually. He is indefensible. He IS the swamp now.