It's looking like the biggest obstacle to Chuck Hagel's confirmation as Secretary of Defense is not Republican opposition, but Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer. Or at least, Schumer wants it to look that way. Schumer has told fellow senators it will be "very hard" for him to vote for Hagel because of his past positions on issues relating to Israel, Politico's Manu Raju and Maggie Haberman report, saying Schumer's opposition "would almost certainly amount to a fatal blow" to Hagel. Schumer has been "quietly letting out the word" that he's unsure about Hagel, Politico writes, though if you look at Schumer's TV appearances, he hasn't been that quiet at all.
On December 23, before President Obama nominated Hagel, Schumer was asked on Meet the Press whether he'd support a theoretical Hagel appointment. Schumer didn't answer, saying, "I'd have to study his record. I'm not going to comment until the president makes a nomination." Politico's Playbook the next day highlighted the comment with the subheadline, "HAGEL IDEA = TOAST." Mike Allen explained, "We checked around at the top levels of Capitol Hill, both parties, and that IS the consensus." But Obama nominated Hagel anyway. On January 9, Schumer told The Wall Street Journal that "It’s too early to tell" whether Hagel will be confirmed. "I’m not going to take guesses like that until I sit down and talk to him."