During today's press conference, Bush said something striking about Karen Hughes' new position:
I applaud Secretary Rice's decision to include Karen in the process. I thought that was very wise of her to call upon Karen's talents.
This could be nothing more than his usual M.O of pretending total ignorance over everything that happens in government (I still love watching him talk about the privatization plan he doesn't have right before he defend the plan he's put forth), certainly wouldn't be the first time he acted like newborn babe stunned by the strange workings of Washington. But assume he's being honest, that Rice actually did generate the idea to bring Hughes into the fold.
Pretty fucking smart.
I'd take that as evidence that Rice is making determined moves to consolidate her power in the administration. Bring Hughes in, treat her well, and suddenly you have the only force able to counterbalance Karl lined up on behalf of Condi's proposals. It'd make intra-administration opposition almost impossible. A very savvy play, if true. Alternately, Bush could have put Hughes there to watch over Condi, which I don't believe as Rice is reputed to be an integral part of the President's inner circle. He could also have simply felt that she's a good PR person, worked well for him, and could do the same for the Arab peoples. It'd be simplistic, but logical. In any case, it may not be Hughes who's the story here, but what sort of alliance she'll build with Rice. Because right now, you've got two of the President's closest advisors sitting at State, and potentially teaming up. If they got on the same page, State would wield more power than it's had at any time since Kissinger helmed the place.