Democratic supporters of Hagel came to his defense this week as the vote drew near.
"The president wants him in the room as he's making important decisions. There's no question about his integrity of character. I think the president deserves to have the Cabinet he wants as long as the person is qualified," Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill said on "Fox News Sunday."
The consternation over Hagel's confirmation has been "kabuki theater," said David Rothkopf, editor of Foreign Policy magazine.
"The political divisions that dictated the pace and twists of his confirmation process pre-date him and will post-date his confirmation," Rothkopf said. "The reality is that Hagel won't drive (defense) policy, the president and Hill politics will."
And time will heal even these political wounds, Rothkopf said.