Washington-- While the White House concedes that Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel's performance at his confirmation hearing today was less than perfect, they're confident about his chances of clearing the Senate.
The official line is the White House hopes and expects the confirmation process to proceed smoothly and expeditiously and that Hagel's performance before the Senate Armed Services Committee today did not materially undermine his prospects.
Privately, White House advisers concede Hagel's appearance was far from perfect and good have and should have been stronger. This doesn't mean or even suggest White House advisers are despairing or believe anything Hagel did was ruinous. To the contrary. They believe Hagel got by - but with less margin for error than they would have preferred.
In short, the White House sees no erosion among Senate Democrats. The tough line of questioning from Republicans was expected and the White House, at this point, doesn't anticipate or fear a GOP filibuster.
Additionally, the White House and Democrats will make the post-hearing case that Republicans were far more interested in pressing Hagel on past votes and past remarks than current and future U.S. national security hotspots such as Afghanistan and Iraq (now, as compared to the "surge" debate), Mali, Libya, the South China Sea, North Korea or Yemen. The White House and Democrats will soon say Republicans were trivializing the process by reaching back into Hagel's record, something Republicans consider laughable and politically contrived.