A Republican Senator is Voting for Chuck Hagel and Nobody Cares

U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) (L) and Vice Chairman Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) (R) discuss the proposed 2010 Defense Department budget at a subcommittee meeting on June 9, 2009.

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

It says something about the media savvy of the Block Hagel crew that their efforts today have received more coverage than this.

Hagel has won the backing of at least one Republican senator, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the ranking member on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, who said Tuesday that he plans to vote for confirmation.

Assuming every Democrat votes for Hagel, that’s now four votes he needs to break a filibuster. Realistically, just as Washington looked to Chuck Schumer to see whether there would be real Democratic angst about Hagel, the press corps is looking to John McCain tomorrow to see whether he absolves the nominee of his gaffes or makes a fight out of the nomination. If McCain goes easy — keep in mind, he’s already got a Susan Rice-shaped trophy on his mantle, and he’s currently trying to shepherd through immigration reform — people will take that as a sign that the fight is over. And Republicans could decide to allow a free “no” vote on the nomination without actually filibustering him. (This leaves aside Lindsey Graham’s promise to filibuster Hagel until Leon Panetta talks to him about Benghazi.)