Karen Hughes Office Watch, Day 8

Dan Bartlett makes his move.

White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett has finally moved his stuff into Karen Hughes’ spacious corner office. Last Thursday, Bartlett told Chatterbox that the office was to be his and that he just hadn’t had time to move his things after Hughes vacated the place July 8. He said he’d do it Friday, or perhaps over the weekend. But this morning Elisabeth Bumiller reports in the New York Times:

On Monday [italics Chatterbox’s], [Bartlett] is to move from his cramped West Wing quarters into Ms. Hughes’s large corner office, with its view of the Truman balcony. (He will not get her title, counselor to the president; that is being retired.)Last week, as Mr. Bartlett talked to a reporter in Ms. Hughes’s abandoned space, he said it had not sunk in that she was gone. “But every time I see the empty office, it does hit me,” he said.

Giving the New York Times an interview in Hughes’ former digs is a pretty smart way to plant the flag, but it’s no substitute for moving your stuff in. Fortunately, Chatterbox was able to confirm this morning that Bartlett had made the move, mooting all potential rival claims. (In two earlier items—click here and here—Chatterbox passed along the rumor that Karl Rove had his eye on the office. As Hughes did, Rove inhabits the White House’s second floor, but in a smaller space that is not a corner office. Chatterbox wonders how this goes down with Rove, who got Bartlett hired in the first place. Don Baer, who held Bartlett’s job during the Clinton administration, had to sit in the basement.)

The bewildering complexity of the real estate status hierarchy within the Bush White House can be appreciated only through obsessive perusal of a West Wing map accompanying Bumiller’s Times story. (The online edition, alas, fails to reproduce the graphic, but it’s on Page A-11 of the Washington print edition.) Others on the White House second floor who must now suffer with office space inferior to Bartlett’s include Lawrence B. Lindsey, the economic policy adviser who is so powerful that he’s said to outgun the treasury secretary; Nick Calio, the White House point man on Capitol Hill; and Mary Matalin, Bartlett’s opposite number for Dick Cheney. Matalin’s office doesn’t appear even to have a window, which may explain why the July Washingtonian floated the rumor that CNN will soon hire Matalin to battle her husband James Carville on Crossfire. (Lindsey, Calio, and Matalin were likely irritated to begin with that they didn’t rate space on the ground floor, where the Oval Office is.) Meanwhile, Margaret LaMontagne, Bush’s ridiculously low-profile domestic policy adviser, has what appears to be a second-floor corner office that’s even roomier than Hughes’, as does White House counsel (and possible future Supreme Court justice) Alberto Gonzales.

One piquant second-floor mystery remains unsolved. If you draw lines from Bartlett’s corner office and Gonzales’ corner office, they meet at what appears to be a fourth corner office on the White House’s second floor. Whose is it? The Times doesn’t say.