Karen Hughes, one the last of the president's Texas inner circle, is leaving her State Department post, in which she struggled trying to boost America's image overseas.
The resignation of Hughes, a former TV reporter whose earliest Mideast mission in 2005 was marred by missteps, leaves the future of the public diplomacy effort in doubt. Once seen by Bush as the way to spread "the universal principle of human liberty," the outreach campaign quickly began to founder in a rising anti-American tide. A key 2007 survey showed a continued decline in U.S. standing among other countries.
But some experts contend that the approach of Hughes, a political media expert, was too focused on defending the Bush administration's assertive foreign policy and not enough on selling American values and culture more broadly.