Rick Santorum, candidate for President, rushed home this weekend to be with his teenage daughter, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder. An opponent of the Affordable Care Act, Santorum's daughter will certainly benefit from the pre-existing condition clause of the ACA. The timing of this particular ad hominem is an important matter, no doubt. But I think this argument from Elon Green at the Washington Monthly is a nice example of the non-fallacious use of the subjunctive tu quoque (discovered here!):
And it’s equally okay to remind voters that Santorum, in an act of startling cynicism, continues to equate the ACA with socialism, even suggesting that it would lead to the death of his daughter. His claim that he’s “fighting for Bella and other children like her” — and, by extension, proponents of the ACA are not — is spurious.
By all accounts, Santorum’s daughter has beaten the odds. She’s gotten marvelous healthcare. I have yet to encounter a decent justification from either Santorum or his fellow candidates for denying the nation’s children the same opportunity.
The unstated conclusion is that Santorum, were matters different, would hold a different view. This kind of makes him a hypocrite. Or it at least he would be a hypocrite, if the security of his family's health insurance were ever in question (which, to a certain extent, it won't be, given ACA).
At the very least, the subjunctive tu quoque here aims to uncover an opponent's lack of thoughtfulness about how a given issue might affect people's lives in important ways. The lack of thoughtfulness is particularly egregious, so the scheme alleges, because one fails to realize how their own positions would affect them, were one someone else.
In other news, someone has suggested "tu quoque etiam" as a name for this move. Anyone?
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