Josh Rogin reports some good news:
President Barack Obama is expected to name Chuck Hagel as his choice for defense secretary as early as Monday, as critics of the former Nebraska senator prepare to go to war to fight his expected nomination.
There are other reports saying the same thing, so it appears that the Hagel pick will go forward as expected. The confirmation battle is shaping up to be contentious and unpleasant, as we assumed it would be, but the decision to nominate Hagel in the face of so much vocal opposition and a concerted smear campaign is an encouraging sign that his confirmation is not really in doubt. If there were any substantial Democratic opposition to the nomination in the Senate, Obama presumably would have chosen someone else.
Yes, McCain and the usual hard-liners will grandstand during the hearings, but they likely would have done that anyway, and I doubt that most Senate Republicans want to be seen blocking Hagel. Not only would that be an extraordinary thing to do in response to any Cabinet nomination, but it would be unheard of to do it to a former colleague and a member of their own party. Republican hard-liners will do what they can to make the hearings a tiresome and drawn-out process, but in so doing they will simply be reconfirming why the public doesn’t trust them and why Hagel was the right choice.