There has been some disappointment after President George W. Bush turned down President Obama’s invitation to join him at Ground Zero today, but at the Washington Post, Jen Rubin believes Bush made the right choice:
Well, sometimes history needs some help and stories need to be told by those who were there. But in not appearing at Ground Zero, Bush shows uncommon grace. . . . And he also shows supreme confidence that his decisions were the right ones and that fair-minded people in the future will appreciate this. Grace and confidence. Are there any other qualities that better define the 43rd president?
I couldn’t agree more. The New York Daily News is reporting that Bush was “rubbed the wrong way” because President Obama has “withheld credit from people Bush believes deserved it.” Perhaps so, but there may be more to the story. Leaders sometimes have a difficult time knowing when to step out of the spotlight (see: Bush’s predecessor). Bush’s presence at Ground Zero could have helped bring closure for the country, but there was also a possibility that it could have ended up overshadowing the significance of the moment. Or maybe he was concerned that his attendance would bring back memories of the bitter divisiveness over counterterrorism policy that marked the end of his time in office. Or maybe he just wanted to leave all of the glory to Obama.
Whatever Bush’s reason, the killing of Osama bin Laden couldn’t have taken place without the policies put in place while Bush was in office. Bush played his role in the war on terror, and now he’s content to let Obama play his. Declining the invitation was a first-class move, and as Jen writes, it’s a real illustration of 43’s confidence and grace.