As confirmation hearings on Chuck Hagel begin in the Senate Armed Services Committee, you can probably expect an inverse relationship between the intensity of attacks on him from confirmed enemies, and the actual odds that his confirmation can be blocked.

At Foreign Policy, Josh Rogin has the closest thing to a publicly available whip count on the nomination, and he suggests lobbying on both sides will concentrate on 13 Republican senators (the most prominent being John McCain) who haven’t given any public or private indication of which way they are leaning. With no Democrats (so far) opposing Hagel, it would take a near-complete partisan polarization to provide the basis for a successful filibuster–and that’s a step in itself that some Republicans would hesitate to take in the case of a former colleague. And again: that’s why the Jennifer Rubins of the world are going to pull out every imaginable stop in claiming that Hagel is an anti-semitic beast who wants to turn Israel over to Iran either before or after he reduces the U.S. military to F Troop and McHale’s Navy levels.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.