But what about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?, I can already hear those of you who flinched at the above headline retort. So let me jump down to the end of my new L.A. Times column about "The six categories of Trump apologetics":
Republicans rightly criticized Clinton and her apologists for serially lying about her handling of emails as secretary of State. They were correct in roasting President Obama for endlessly prevaricating about so many aspects of his signature legislative accomplishment. Those who participate now in the whitewashing of an administration's mounting pile of bull are not only soiling themselves, but encouraging their political adversaries to treat legitimate criticism like a cynical partisan club.
We will not soon climb out of this 21st century political black hole we find ourselves in until we begin holding everyone to a higher standard, beginning with ourselves.
The column accepts as already understood the first three broad categories of Trump apologia—Whataboutism, the Fake News Head-Fake, and Anti-Anti-Trumpism. It then adds three more: Two Plus Two DOES Equal Five (see Mnuchin, Steve), the Inverted Rumsfeld (no, not a sexual postion…yet), and the Goalpost Transplant, because "shift" just doesn't do the thing justice. Excerpt from that bit:
Donald Trump Jr. and various members of the administration have been caught up in repeated, sometimes belligerent lies about whether members of the Trump campaign met with various Russians in 2016. Confronted on CNN with this track record — and asked point blank, "Was it a good idea for Don Jr. to meet with this Russian lawyer?" — deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka trotted out some whataboutism ("Was it a good idea for the DNC to send its operatives to the Ukrainian Embassy?") before declaring that the meeting was just fine because Trump was a "private citizen," and digging for dirt "is what political campaigns do."
This is not hard. It was not a good idea for the son of the president to respond enthusiastically ("I love it") and hastily organize a secretive high-level campaign meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump tower after an intermediary promised "information that would incriminate Hillary" Clinton as part of "Russia and its government's support" for Donald Trump, and then lie about it. (BTW if you haven't seen Gorka's exchanges this week with Alisyn Camerota, Stephanie Ruhle, and Anderson Cooper, they are really something to behold.)