November 25, 2014

THE HILL: How Obama and Chuck Hagel reached the end of the line.

While aides described the departure as a mutual decision based on shifting priorities at the Department of Defense, there are signs that tensions between Hagel and the White House contributed to the personnel change.

Hagel struggled to break into the president’s tight-knit inner circle, and clashed with influential White House officials on key policy initiatives. His frequent rhetorical missteps contributed to perceptions he was out of sync with the West Wing.

Ultimately Hagel believed the pivot to combating ISIS represented a dramatic change from the types of reforms he had hoped to accomplish during his tenure at the Pentagon, aides said.

White House and Defense officials said Hagel was tapped to spearhead efforts like combating sexual assault in the ranks and trimming the Pentagon’s budget to deal with sequestration.

Yeah, I think their priorities were off a bit. Plus:

The steady stream of stories in recent weeks that suggested Hagel was having a difficult time penetrating the president’s inner circle carried echoes of Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, two past Defense secretaries who went on to write tell-all books critical of the president’s handling of defense policy.

Former Democratic aide Brent Budowsky said Democrats across the Capitol saw Hagel’s ouster as the latest example of “unprecedented” drama created by “too tight and too controlling of an inner circle.”

Translation: Valerie Jarrett.