A series of tactical blunders, a coziness with Wall Street and a shifting re-election strategy have made White House chief of staff Bill Daley the wrong man to serve as gatekeeper to the president.
Last night, The Wall Street Journal first reported that Daley was relinquishing "day-to-day management of the West Wing to Pete Rouse, a veteran aide to President Obama." The White House is loathe to call it a demotion, focusing on Rouse's expanded role rather than Daley's diminished one. While others are noting that Daley has simply "not been getting along" with colleagues in the White House.
Bottom line: aides have confirmed to Politico, The New York Times, Fox News and other news organizations that Rouse will be taking over some of Daley's day-to-day operational role. From here on out, it seems, the nominal chief of staff will serve more of an ambassadorial role, managing relationships with outsiders.
In September, a number of Daley's problems were writ large in extensive profiles in The Huffington Post and Politico. Additionally, White House officials are speaking on background now about the falling out.
Here are the key factors:
A clash with Harry Reid As Carol Lee at The Wall Street Journal reports today, Daley's relationship with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been a nagging problem.
[It] soured during the budget negotiations this year, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Daley angered Democrats by trying to cut side budget deals with Republicans. He stoked the tension recently by telling a columnist for the website Politico that "both Democrats and Republicans" have made it difficult for Mr. Obama to govern.
Mr. Reid was livid, and Mr. Daley had to call to smooth things over. "When I make a mistake or he thinks I've made a mistake, we talk," Mr. Daley said.
He restricted access to Obama, infuriating aides Glenn Thrush at Politico reports that Daley's management style was his undoing: "Daley’s brisk corporate style has soured some White House staffers who think he’s pinching Obama’s access to outside opinions at a time when the administration needs fresh insights," he writes. "He didn’t mesh as well as expected with senior adviser David Plouffe — and remained a relative outsider to many of the campaign veterans who make up the core of Obama’s staff. Nor did he go out of his way to endear himself, often shuttering the door to his corner West Wing office — in contrast to both Rouse and Emanuel."