George Bush will not be joining President Obama in his visit to New York's Ground Zero site this Thursday. According to a spokesman, Bush "appreciated" the invite and will "celebrate" the milestone of Osama bin Laden's death, but wasn't going to be at the former World Trade Center site to mark the event with the President.
The White House has also extended an invitation to the other political figure most identified with the Sept. 11 attacks, then New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to Politico. But there is no word yet whether he will attend.
One source suggested to Politico that Bush wanted to "give Obama his moment." Whatever the reason, the decline is in keeping with Bush's desire to stay out of the spotlight since he left office. Even on his Decision Points book tour last fall, the ex-president refused to speculate or criticize his successor, telling Bill O'Reilly that he was just the "retired guy" and refusing to weigh in on current political issues.
Still, declining this invite to Ground Zero is puzzling. It's hard to see how a show of bipartisanship at one of the nation's most sacred sites (a place where Bush himself delivered his most memorable speech) could be dismissed as a political maneuver.
On Sunday, George Bush had been having dinner with his wife at a Dallas shopping center when news broke about bin Laden. He was then quickly ushered into a an SUV caravan and later issued a statement in praise of the action, noting "No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."
Photos by Getty Images