Soon after President Obama decided to to mark the death of Osama bin Laden with a Thursday visit to the World Trade Center site in New York City, he invited George W. Bush to join him. While the former president "appreciated the invite," says Bush spokesman David Sherzer, he declined, having "chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight." Is that really why Bush turned down the joint appearance at Ground Zero? Here, five theories:
1. Bush is simply classy and gracious
I take Bush at his word, that he thinks the country is best served by seeing only one president at a time like this, says Patrick Edaburn at The Moderate Voice. And that's "a classy decision." Letting Obama take centerstage certainly fits "how gracious Dubya has been in retirement," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. "Needless to say, it was also gracious of The One to invite" Bush.
2. He feared being insulted to his face
"At first blush, this might seem as a bit ungracious of Bush," says Jay Tea at Wizbang. But it's probably a smart move. Remember how Obama managed to "insult and deride" the Supreme Court, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and Donald Trump when they were sitting right in front of him? Who's to say he wouldn't "take a few more swipes" at Bush, too?
3. The former president doesn't want to help Obama's re-election
If Obama had wanted a "photo-op" with Bush, the right time was the announcement of bin Laden's death, says Dana Pretzer at Scared Monkeys. But there's no reason for Bush to join in an event that will certainly create moving video for an Obama re-election commercial.
4. He didn't want the inevitable comparisons to Obama
Funny, earlier this week "the bloviators on Fox were whining that President Obama wasn't sharing the glory with Bush," says Libby Spencer at The Impolitic. Well, now Obama has tried. And I bet a "big part of the reason Bush declined was he knew he would look very small standing next to the man who actually got bin Laden."
5. Bush is saving his fire for Sept. 11
Whatever his reasons, Bush was "gracious and right" to turn down Obama's invitation, says Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post. Bush is, of course, celebrating bin Laden's death "in his own way, out of public view this time." But "what he should do on Sept. 11, 2011, isn't even a question." On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, Bush must mark the occasion publicly. And he will.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- Why Israel can no longer let the Palestinian Authority be responsible for security in the West Bank
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Why charity can't solve society's deepest problems
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- Grammar quiz: Do you know the passive voice?
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
Subscribe to the Week