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Chris Hill, Gop V. Gates Edition

John McCain opposes Chris Hill's nomination to be Obama's Iraq ambassador, and now Eli Lake reports that Sam Brownback threatens to "[do] everything I can to hold up this nominee." But Eli got Defense Secretary Gates' spokesman on the phone, and this really doesn't look like a fight many Republicans will want to be part of:

In a rare comment on a diplomatic nomination, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Thursday that it was crucial that the position be filled promptly.

"It is vital that we get an ambassador in Baghdad as soon as possible," he told The Times. "Not because the deputy chief of mission and the rest of the staff isn't doing a very good job, but because there is no substitute for having the president's envoy, the U.S. ambassador, in place and on the job."

As Eli notes, the job has been vacant since Ryan Crocker left in January.

Added value: I'm reliably told that in recent discussions about Hill, McCain has obsessively harped on Obama's refusal to acknowledge the (alleged) success of the Iraq surge, which McCain staunchly supported and Obama opposed. It's a point McCain raised repeatedly during the campaign, and one which is said to continue to infuriate him. During Hill's confirmation hearing next week, watch to see whether McCain seems to be demanding a concession from Hill on this point, perhaps in exchange for McCain's support, and whether Hill is willing to grant it. [Correction: McCain sits on Armed Services, not Foreign Relations, and thus won't be present at Hill's confirmation.]

--Michael Crowley