Why Bush won’t join Obama at Ground Zero

WHY BUSH WON’T JOIN OBAMA AT GROUND ZERO…. President Obama will travel to Lower Manhattan today, visiting Ground Zero and meeting with families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. He invited former President George W. Bush to join him, but the Republican declined, preferring, his spokesperson said, to “remain largely out of the spotlight.”

That’s certainly his prerogative, but it has sparked some speculation about why the former president would turn down the opportunity, with even some Bush supporters questioning the move. The New York Daily News reports today that Bush apparently declined in part because Obama hurt his feelings.

George W. Bush won’t be at Ground Zero with President Obama Thursday in part because he feels his team is getting short shrift in the decade-long manhunt for Osama Bin Laden.

“[Bush] viewed this as an Obama victory lap,” a highly-placed source told the Daily News Wednesday.

Bush’s visit to the rubble after the 9/11 attacks was the emotional high point of his presidency, but associates say the invitation to return with his successor was a non-starter. “He doesn’t feel personally snubbed and appreciates the invitation, but Obama’s claiming all the credit and a lot of other people deserve some of it,” the source added.

“Obama gave no credit whatsoever to the intelligence infrastructure the Bush administration set up that is being hailed from the left and right as setting in motion the operation that got Bin Laden. It rubbed Bush the wrong way.”

First, Obama didn’t claim all the credit.

Second, Obama very specifically heralded “the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals” that has taken place “over the last 10 years.”

And third, is Bush really this immature? Even after the killing of Osama bin Laden?

I’m not even sure what the former president and his allies expect Obama to say, exactly. Bush said he didn’t care about catching bin Laden, disbanded the CIA team tasked with hunting bin Laden, deemphasized bin Laden’s importance in counter-terrorism, and screwed up the mission at Tora Bora. What’s Obama’s message supposed to be, “Thanks for getting out of the way and letting me get the job done”?

Just for context, I’d note that the article was written by Thomas DeFrank. It relies, obviously, on unnamed “highly-placed sources,” which understandably may lead to skepticism, but DeFrank is one of the more clued-in reporters I can think of, especially when it comes to Bush’s team. If DeFrank says the quotes come from “highly-placed sources,” I’m very much inclined to believe it.