Now, the task of Republicans trying to kill the Hagel nomination is to convince McCain to change his mind on whether Hagel deserves an up-or-down vote. The ten-day break gives those Republicans, including freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, who has taken a leading role in opposing Hagel and in seeking more time to investigate Hagel’s record, an opportunity to convince McCain to stay with the filibuster after the President’s Day break.

It could be a tough job. McCain is not only a Republican leader on all things military who was apparently irritated by Cruz’s remarks about Hagel at an Armed Services Committee meeting Tuesday. McCain is also a headstrong and sometimes difficult man who can react badly if he feels he is being pressured. So look for GOP senators to be as diplomatic as possible in the effort to convince McCain that Hagel should be stopped without ever receiving a confirmation vote.