Whataboutism had already been elevated to an art form by Trump supporters when the president decided to use it as political cover Monday. Asked about his pardon of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Trump didn't defend his decision. He attacked his predecessors to excuse his actions.
Because former President Barack Obama pardoned "criminal leakers" like Chelsea Manning and because President Bill Clinton pardoned "dangerous criminals" like Marc Rich, Trump thinks his decision is wholly justified. Apparently in his mind, two wrong pardons make one right.
That's as ridiculous a sentiment as it is an alarming leap in logic. It signals that the proverbial buck no longer stops at the president's proverbial desk, so long as the executive can point at his predecessors and shout "they did it first!"
Trump's right to condemn Clinton's pardon of a traitor who made oil deals with Iranian terrorists. Trump's also right to condemn Obama's commutation for Chelsea Manning, who leaked 750,000 sensitive and classified national security documents. But Trump's wrong to justify his actions in light of their failures.
The president can prattle on about the failures, mistakes, and faults of each of his predecessor's going back to Washington if he wants to. Hell, he can tweet until his fingers bleed. But in the end, it won't change anything. At least until 2020, only his actions matter.
Reasonable people can disagree vehemently over the decision. There are plenty of arguments on both sides that Trump could crib from if he need talking points. Rather than make an argument, he decided to make excuses.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.