The Dan Bartlett Office Watch

Not as compelling as the Karen Hughes Office Watch, but August’s a slow news month.

During the second week in July, Chatterbox maintained a Karen Hughes Office Watch. The idea was to track who would move into Hughes’ spacious and freshly vacated corner office on the second floor of the White House. (Click here, here, here, and here to read the items.) White House communications director Dan Bartlett ultimately seized the prize, though it seemed to Chatterbox that he took his sweet time in doing so. It didn’t occur to Chatterbox that Bartlett’s old office, which is rather small, would create a tense power vacuum of its own, but that is what has happened, according to a Washington Post story by Dana Milbank. More than a month after Bartlett vacated it, the office is still empty. (Milbank’s piece ran a week ago, but when Chatterbox checked today, Bartlett’s old office was still empty.)

Rumor had it that cable-news celebrity Mary Matalin, now counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney, wanted the office, but Matalin insisted to Milbank that she was happy with her crummy little cubbyhole on the same floor. (She also has a much nicer office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, a grand Second Empire pile next door to the White House.) Another rumor had it that Margaret Tutwiler, who was State Department spokesperson during the first Bush administration and is ambassador to Morocco in the current one, would reclaim it. (She was parked there at the beginning of Dubya’s term.) But Tutwiler told Milbank, “there is absolutely zero truth to it,” which is Washington-ese for “Probably not.” In all likelihood, the office will go to whoever Bartlett hires for his old job, which Bartlett is not rushing to fill, he told Milbank, because “I’m still making a determination for what I need.”