The confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel is now scheduled to begin on January 31. The announcement comes on the heels of New York Senator Chuck Schumer's late-stage conversion from Hagel's adversary to a Democratic pillar of support. And a concrete date should hasten the efforts of Hagel's most vociferous critics, who haven't really backed down since Schumer threw his weight behind him. To wit, here's Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post:

So maybe Schumer figured this is an easy give to the White House and he can afford to drop his “guard” duty for Israel. (He repeats ad nauseam that his name derives from the Hebrew word “shomer” (guard).) But wait. Schumer here risks stepping out (or being pushed out) too soon, and opening the door to potential rivals to seize the mantle of sober leadership on the Middle East.

Here's William Kristol, who came out against Hagel even as broad opposition consensus was unclear, writing Tuesday in The Weekly Standard:

Republican senators, and Democratic senators who are willing to take seriously their advise and consent responsibility, won't follow Schumer's lead in making fools of themselves. They'll wait for the public hearings so as to be able to explore in the light of day the record of a man nominated for so important a position of public trust.

And here, finally, is the inestimable Dick Morris, in a video address published today, telling his viewers to petition Senators in New York, California, and Florida to oppose Hagel's nomination, because of the former senator's philosophy toward Israel:

Hagel's confirmation hearings will be held in the Senate Armed Services Committee.