By Paul R. Pillar
Sometimes an accusation that a mote is in someone else’s eye (to paraphrase a biblical quotation) ought to underscore the significance of the beam that is in the accuser’s eye. Donald Trump’s tactic of accusing his critics of some of the very sorts of misconduct for which he is criticized has generated many such mote-and-beam situations over the past three years. Given the reach of party tribalism and demagogic appeal, use of the tactic extends far beyond Trump himself to many of his defenders.
Among the most recent and scurrilous instances of the tactic have been the efforts to smear public officials who, while telling uncomfortable truths central to the current impeachment investigation, have given no indication that their careers have ever departed from loyal and honorable service to the United States. Victims of the smears have included ambassadors, military officers, and other career officials.