"'You are a slow learner, Winston,' said O'Brien gently.If you have paid any attention to the Chuck Hagel, SecDef nomination hype, you probably heard the former Republican Senator's detractors calling him "out of the mainstream," when it comes to Israel, Iran, and involving the US in talks with terrorist organizations.
"'How can I help it?' he blubbered. 'How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.'
"'Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.'"
- from "1984," by George Orwell (Part 3, Chapter 2)
Witness Thursday morning's exchange between Hagel and Sen. John McCain, during the former's confirmation hearing. Hagel, as a Senator, made statements against Bush's 2007 troop surge in Iraq, equating it to a potential quagmire, a word used often to describe the war in Vietnam, where Hagel served and was wounded. McCain, himself a prisoner of the Vietcong during that conflict, insisted that the surge was a success and wanted his former colleague to take it back, to admit his previous position was a mistake.
“I’m not going to give you a yes or no,” Hagel told McCain. “I’ll defer that judgement to history."
"History has already made a judgement on the surge," McCain insisted, "and you’re on the wrong side of it."
This insistence on defining history as mainstream truth is a revisionism worthy of Orwell. Honest and frank answers are eschewed for blind allegiance and party fidelity. Engaging in "You're either with us or against us" tactics, especially when it comes to what's true or not, endangers our republic, because it attempts to supplant evidence with conviction.
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