It is difficult to imagine Hagel managing the Pentagon bureaucracy with any success after his stumbling performance before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He not only renounced some of his former views, but seemed unsure at times what his views were, or what the Obama administration’s policy is on major issues. He was reduced, eventually, to suggesting that his own views on the issues do not actually matter.
That is a weak posture for a Secretary of Defense–but appropriate for a diplomat, who must defend the policies of his government even when he disagrees with them.
The delay of Hagel’s confirmation offers a chance for face-saving compromise: perhaps Hagel ought to be offered Susan Rice’s old UN job, where he would be happier, and do less damage, than at the Pentagon. It would still be a poor appointment, but certainly a better one.