Republicans, smarting after the debacle in the House GOP caucus in the lead-up to the fiscal cliff mini-deal, are looking to notch a win on the scoreboard, while mindful of the politics of holding up presidential prerogative on Cabinet appointees. For foreign policy wonks, it is a pivot point for a debate about the post-Bush doctrine of the Republican party. …

For the White House, the choice of Hagel gives the president a post-Susan Rice opportunity to show he’ll stick to his principles as well as offer proof that White House aides have learned the lesson of leaving appointees undefined in the current political climate. But it also embroils the president, who had capital to spend after a lopsided electoral win in November, in a potentially ugly and, some Senate Democratic aides say privately, unnecessary fight given other elements of his agenda. …

“It’s going to be a classic Beltway fight where the opponents on both sides are waging a classic [publicity] war against him,” said one Republican operative. …

“The president’s determined to have the nominee he wants in the position he wants and not … get caught up in trivial politics that don’t amount to a hill of beans,” said Democratic strategist Jonathan Prince.