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America is stricken with a serious epidemic of "Yeah, but ... " syndrome, a disease that is clogging our arteries of discourse and causing our personal behavior to degenerate.

Also called what aboutism, Yeah, but ... syndrome blinds its sufferers to political reality. It makes them intensely defensive of the shortcomings of those with whom they are politically aligned.

For example, push back against the intimidation and bullying tactics of the left, and you'll hear, "Yeah, but Donald Trump is a racist who keeps children in cages."

Suggest that bias on the part of FBI agents is unacceptable, and the response is, "Yeah, but Trump colluded with the Russians."

Note that Democrats are being knee-jerk in their opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and you'll get, "Yeah, but Republicans blocked Merrick Garland."

It's beyond simple tit-for-tat. It's a perpetual motion machine that keeps us spinning in a circle of grievances.

And it's a bipartisan ailment. Those on the right become hyper-sensitive to corresponding injustices. Opine that President Trump is going too easy on Russia, and his loyalists respond, "Yeah, but Obama shipped a pallet of cash to the Iranian mullahs." 

Chide Trump for mistreatment of asylum seekers, and prepare for "Yeah, but Obama did the same thing."

Every bad policy decision, every outrageous act, every dumb thing done is excused by the awfulness of the other side. 

For the Trump haters, all rules are off because he is in the White House. Any deed done in the name of destroying his presidency is accepted without reflection.

The irony is that his ardent opponents claim to worry he is destroying "who we are as a people." And yet they are hastening that destruction by condoning anti-social acts and expressions of disdain that cover not just the president, but all of America's institutions. 

They are allowing Trump to set the rules of engagement, to decide the tone in which we'll communicate. In the process they are becoming what he is.

The defense mounted by Trump backers that Barack Obama was just as bad is equally curious. So they elected Trump to continue Obama's poor performance? 

They should expect much more of the man they chose to make America great again.

Defenders of the president do him no favor by pretending his whimsical approach to governing, extreme braggadocio and basic laziness in prepping to make world-changing decisions is somehow a sign of strong leadership.

If they're willing to abandon long-held Republican principles such as free trade and spending restraint in deference to Trump's selective conservatism, they may as well have elected a Democrat. 

"Yeah, but Trump cut taxes" only goes so far in covering the stacks of mistakes he's been piling up in his economic policies.

The dual obsessions with bringing Trump down and propping him up are transforming us. We are tolerating stuff that we once instinctively knew demanded our denouncement. 

Bad is bad. Inappropriate is inappropriate. Intolerance is intolerance. Those lines are clear, and we know where they lie. And they shouldn't shift with the partisan sands.

Yet we are crossing them with abandon, allowing our personal sense of righteousness to overwhelm our sense of decency. 

"Yeah, but we are going through terrible times" is not reason enough to excuse what we know is wrong.

nfinley@detroitnews.com

Catch “The Nolan Finley Show” weekdays 7-9 a.m. on 910 AM Superstation.

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