The Whataboutism Epidemic
By Stephen Tuttle | Aug. 12, 2023
“Whataboutism” is a real word—at least according to Merriam-Webster—but so far, it hasn’t been officially recognized by any organization of psychologists, psychiatrists, or other mental health counselors. It is, however, a condition that afflicts more and more people who support Donald Trump.
“Sure,” they say, “Trump has been accused of stuff, but what about…” and you can insert almost any Trump opponent, former opponent, or relative of an opponent into that space. As in, “What about Hunter?” or “What about Hillary?”
Indeed, what about Hunter Biden? Since he’s President Joe Biden’s adult son, he makes a good political target and a way to deflect attention from Trump’s alleged wrongdoing. And if Joe Biden can be connected, legitimately or otherwise, so much the better. The accusation is that Hunter Biden, while on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, used his then-vice president father’s influence to try and secure business deals in the U.S. and, in the process, there were $5 million in bribes for both Hunter and Joe. Quite a story.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. James Comer, have been “investigating” the president in the hopes of connecting him somehow to Hunter’s questionable business deals. They’ve even taken to referring to the “Biden crime family” while making all manner of proclamations about smoking guns, incriminating videos, whistleblowers, and dots easily connected.
So, what about Hunter and Joe Biden?
Let’s start with the obvious—Hunter Biden is not now nor has he ever been an elected or appointed government official. He does not now and never has worked in his father’s vice presidential or presidential administrations. He has a somewhat checkered past that includes drug abuse and previous shady business dealings. He recently pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion, but the remainder of the accompanying plea agreement has been put on hold. Not exactly a perfect record.
Rep. Comer told us, repeatedly, his committee would connect Hunter’s business shenanigans to the president. We were told there was a video showing the actual $5 million bribe being paid, except that video was never produced and may have never existed. We were told there were witnesses to that payoff, but they were never found, or were on the lam or thought to have died more than three years ago and never testified. We were told IRS whistleblowers would prove the Hunter business excesses went all the way to the White House, but instead, they testified they couldn’t even complete an investigation because “higher ups,” including some appointed during the Trump administration, stopped them.
Finally, we had closed-door testimony from Devon Archer, a business associate of Hunter Biden’s who, we were told, would finally expose the sordid truth. Comer even claimed as much after Archer was through testifying, but the actual transcripts of that testimony told a different story. Archer testified he never heard Hunter and his father discuss business, Hunter never asked his father to favorably intervene on Burisma’s behalf, no Biden policy changes helped Burisma, and he was unaware of any bribes to anybody. In other words, Comer’s committee has thus far discovered nothing.
Well, then, what about Hillary?
With one current possible exception, no public figure has been investigated more than Hillary Clinton. Investigations started when she was Arkansas First Lady over a land development deal called Whitewater on which the Clintons actually lost money. When she became the U.S. First Lady, four separate Whitewater Congressional investigations, including an independent counsel costing $82 million, were conducted but no charges brought.
Then, when she was Secretary of State, the U.S. Special Mission and CIA Annex in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by terrorists, and our ambassador and three other Americans were killed. According to The Wall Street Journal, investigations by Republicans ensued that included 255 witnesses, 62 hours of hearings, 13 reports, 2,500 pages of related information, and no Clinton wrongdoing was proven or charges filed.
That was followed by the infamous personal computer server and email erasures. The Trump Administration’s own Department of Justice had four years to investigate and concluded Clinton’s actions were careless but not criminal and “…no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges…”
Donald Trump has been charged with a total of 78 felonies in three separate states. The indictments were not brought by partisans but by regular citizens impaneled on three different grand juries in three different locations. Unlike the Congressional investigations, the grand juries were presented with real evidence and heard from real witnesses. Trump is, of course, innocent until proven guilty, and he will have his days in multiple courts.
Trying to deflect attention from reality by playing the whatabout game while being infected with whataboutism has nothing to do with Trump’s alleged wrongdoing. What about Hunter? What about Hillary? The better question is this: What about Donald Trump?