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The Los Angeles Times called the 45-year old Karen Hughes one of the most powerful unelected women in the United States, but she resigned from her post less than a year and a half after Bush had successfully won the presidential election. Her husband and teenage son were "homesick," so the family headed back to Texas. The Austin family did not fit into the Washington. Hughes told reporters, “Throughout my career I have tried to prioritize my family while I have a career. I’ve prided myself that this is a family-friendly White House, and I think this is a family-friendly decision." Hughes will continue her unique work for Bush--as a confidant, advisor and speechwriter--but she will no longer serve constantly at his side. She will return regularly to Washington to advise the president and will be in touch constantly by phone.

A few editorials lauded Hughes’ family-centric decision, but Washington insiders openly wondered if there weren’t other reasons. Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, insisted that Hughes did not quit working: “The fact is Karen is going to continue working, just in a different location for the president. We keep pushing people back into the old boxes--work or family, all or nothing. But none of us really fit that anymore." Kay Koplovitz, a prominent author also rose to her defense: “Every time there is someone this visible who makes such a decision it’s a big stir mostly because people still don’t trust that women can stay in these positions, but trust me, we will hear more from Karen. She’s very strong, so don’t be surprised if she does something else important."

Mary Matalin, an advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, said, "Karen didn’t care about the power and access thing that is so big in the Washington culture. The only thing she liked about her job was [writing] the speeches, the big projects and advising [Bush]. She’ll keep doing all that. What she didn’t like was all the Kabuki dancing in the White House, all of which ate away at her ...

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