Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., found it tough sledding with his former Republican colleagues in the Senate, where he underwent a grilling on his confirmation for defense secretary.
A decorated Vietnam vet, whom one would expect to be easily approved, Hagel instead was submitted to tough questions by former Senate friends. He came off as not knowing much about the department he would head.
For example, when “the surge” in Afghanistan was first proposed, he opposed it. Yet, it turned out to be the push that was needed to turn the Afghan war around. He found little sympathy Thursday for his opposition.
Hagel was asked by Sen. John McCain, a fellow Vietnam vet: “Were you correct or incorrect when you said that the surge would be the most dangerous foreign policy blunder ... since Vietnam?’’
Hagel replied: “It’s far more complicated than that ... My answer is, I’ll defer that judgment to history.”
We hear that a lot from people who don’t want to say they were wrong. President Clinton was often quoted as saying he would let history decide this or that. President Bush also deferred to history on many things.
That’s probably because history has in some cases made certain people look like heroes. But it also has made them look like idiots or even monsters. While history was kind to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, it certainly was no friend to Hitler, Stalin and Mao.
Will history be kind to Chuck Hagel if he survives the confirmation process? Despite his war record, he seems dovish, at least in the eyes of McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) for someone who is supposed to be ready at any time to blow up our enemies or keep them from blowing us up.