Chuck Hagel's rocky road to confirmation as Secretary of Defense is now over. The Senate confirmed his nomination on Tuesday afternoon with a vote of 58 to 41, according to a Feb. 26 report on NPR.org. The vote went mainly along party lines. Hagel's friend, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), has made no secret about his assessment that Hagel is not qualified for the job.
On Sunday, Senator McCain expressed his disapproval of the president's appointment, yet he seemed to be resigned to the inevitability of Hagel's confirmation according to CNN:
"I don't believe Chuck Hagel, who is a friend of mine, is qualified to be secretary of defense. But I do believe that elections have consequences, unfortunately, and the president of the United States was re-elected," Sen. John McCain said on "State of the Union."
In the late 1990s, when Chuck Hagel was serving as the Senator from Nebraska, Senator McCain and Chuck Hagel were the best of friends, both of them Vietnam veterans. According to the Washington Post, McCain campaigned for Hagel in 1996, and Hagel supported McCain's presidential bid in 2000. They split ways politically and personally over their opposing views on the war in Iraq during deliberations over the surge.
Chuck Hagel, the recipient of two Purple Hearts, will be the first Vietnam veteran to head up the Department of Defense.