"All of the issues that confront a secretary of defense, frankly … we just did not see enough time spent on discussing those issues," Panetta said.
Still, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on “Meet the Press,” “The disconcerting thing for anybody that watched [Hagel’s confirmation hearing] is he seemed unimpressive and unprepared on the questions that quite frankly he knew was coming.”
But the line of inquiry that got the most attention was over the “surge” in Iraq, specifically Sen. John McCain’s sharp assertion that Hagel was “on the wrong side of history” in opposing the surge – and earlier than that, the former Nebraska Senator’s eventual opposition to the Iraq war itself.
To some observers, McCain’s attack on his one-time close friend and fellow Vietnam combat veteran seemed unnecessarily personal, focusing on an issue that most lawmakers (and most Americans) have gotten past regarding an unpopular war.
“This was a vanity thing for John McCain to try to prove to a former friend who disagreed with him that he was right on the surge and Chuck Hagel was wrong,” said Gibbs.