In other words, with President Obama’s approval rating stuck in the low 40s, and nothing seeming to move the numbers, the shift to the center that Daley symbolized when he was brought into the White House in January was scrapped for a populist bid to reclaim the Democratic base. The result: Daley was not happy.

According to a veteran lobbyist, word got back to the White House that the chief of staff was up on Capitol Hill distancing himself from the president, saying, “They’re not listening to me.” That’s a cardinal sin for a White House adviser, and in a city where the buildings have ears, it’s not one that stays hidden for long.

Daley’s management skills also came under fire. “He goes dark—you need an answer, and by the time he gets back to you, it’s too late,” says a former colleague familiar with his style after working with him in the private sector. “And that’s not good for the manager of a bunch of burning pots.”