Following Apple's removal of Bob Mansfield from their executive team, and clarification that he'd be staying to work on special projects, some more color and context has been reported on the situation. And it's low on drama, high on love. First, John Gruber of Daring Fireball:
There’s nothing punitive with Mansfield’s role change, nor health problems or anything like that. Just a more focused role on certain new products. His un-retirement as a senior vice president last year was always intended to be transitional, not permanent.
Gruber also says Mansfield is so successful and so popular he can "write his own ticket". Talking to Bloomberg, Om Malik had similar comments to make regarding the level of love for Mansfield.
So, thankfully, no medical concerns, and no politics, just an opportunity for Mansfield to shed his executive duties and go full speed ahead on those special projects. (Which, most recently, was rumored to include the iWatch...)