Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 5, 2011

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.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (58)

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And third, is Bush really this immature?

Umm, yes.

Bush is one in a long line of Republican Crybaby Bullies (Newt, Boehner etc). What did you expect?

Posted by: martin on May 5, 2011 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

" is Bush really this immature?"

Yes! This is the who gave nick names to reporters, and pretended to hunt for WMDs under his desk. This is a man-child.

Posted by: rk21 on May 5, 2011 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Jr is a dink. There is no profit in trying to molly coddle the little shit. He's lucky he isn't in jail.

Posted by: SW on May 5, 2011 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

BOO HOO! X 1000 + Dummy Dumsfeld - reflective sobriety = 1 / I wanna pout past president! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 5, 2011 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

It's still an open question whether the petulant feelings are coming from GWB himself, or from high-level aides (Ari Fleischer, for example, or even Karl Rove) who are going to be much more aggressive about the spin, and about "their guy."

You have to think about how GWB wants to view himself, and he seems to want to be the guy who "graciously keeps his mouth shut and lets the new guy do his job." And that's been borne out -- GWB has been very careful to not say much. (I think his lack of interest in governating plays into it as well, he's just as glad to not have to get in the mix). Other Bushies, from Cheney on down, have gone out into the arena for combat.

Also, Bush and Clinton have been involved in joint projects with the Obama White House.

Also, too, Obama did make the phone call to GWB before the speech, to do him the courtesy of letting him know privately, President to President. That's the sort of gesture that is bound to be appreciated -- the special whisper in the ear.

So, I'm sure this unnamed high-level source is saying that Bush is unhappy and that's why he's not going, and that this reporter is plugged in with high-level Bushies, but I'm not automatically convinced it's coming straight from GWB. I'm equally accepting of the possibility that GWB honestly feels that he should sit back and "let the new guy do his job." There's no proof either way, and GWB's comportment over the last couple of years makes me lean to the more generous interpretation.

Posted by: zmulls on May 5, 2011 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

The republicans really are insecure children. A more mature, secure group of people wouldn't have sent the country down such a disastrous path after the 9/11 attacks.

Their reactions, whether it is trying to claim torture worked or pouting over lack of credit, perfectly illustrates their insecurities.

I've always felt Dubya's political career was the result of daddy issues. He didn't have some grand vision to change the country; it was essentially chasing his daddy's legacy. And the country paid an enormous price for it.

Posted by: Holmes on May 5, 2011 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

What has Bush actually said on the subject? Not what has some conservative spimmester said, but what has Bush actually said?

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 5, 2011 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Until I hear it from bush, I won't believe it. I think these are just bush supporters shit stirring. bush may in fact feel that way, but I really do believe he is too mature to let anyone know that. Anyone that might run their mouths that is. Obama called him and gave him a shout out in his late night speech. If bush really wanted credit he would have come to NY with Obama and showed himself.

Posted by: Alli on May 5, 2011 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

And I'm sure Bush and Turd Blossom would have graciously shared the limelight with their "Democrat" colleagues, and Limbaugh, Fox, et al would NEVER exploit the capture of Bin Laden for political purposes! Let the sniveling babies cry.

Posted by: Patrick Star on May 5, 2011 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

You know, Bush should thank his lucky stars that this country faithfully practices "It's Okay if You're a Republican-ism." By rights, on any of hundreds of counts, he should have been disgraced and impeached, including his and his administration's astounding negligence and incompetence that led up to 9/11 (that's my polite "sane" version of it).

As a New Yorker, I was gobsmacked to see Bush turned into an instant hero for (finally) visiting the fallen WTC and shouting some frat-boy nonsense through a bullhorn.

I'm glad Bush turned down the invitation. He's already been given far too much credit; he remains a miserable failure. One of the worst this country has ever had in the Oval Office, if not the worst.

Posted by: June on May 5, 2011 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Little Boots,
You little worthless little fucking punk-ass bitch, man-up and fight your own battles, you gutless fucking weasel!

And need I remind you, you cowardly ass-face, that it was YOU who DISMANTLED the bin Laden search team in 2006, in a petulant snit when you couldn't find the mother-fucker who showed your worthless ass to the world on 9/11, and killed thousand of Americans doing it?

And do I need to remind you that thousands of American kids, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's, died since the day that you flew in on the rumble-seat of that jet and pranced around on that aircraft carrier in your kielbasi-stuffed codpiece and announced "Mission Accomplished" like you'd actually finally done something in your worthless fucking life.

And I find it ESPECIALLY DELICIOUS that Obama announced getting Osama on the 8th anniversary of YOUR strutting 'mission NOT accomplished' one man parade, orchestrated by the same dimwits and clowns who are now the mouthpieces for your petulant anger.
Now, on top of Osama, we can add Obama to the list of people who showed your worthless cowardly ass to the world. Only NOT ONE soldier was lost doing it, unlike your body count!

You want credit? FUCK YOU!
The only thing in your scorebook is the deaths of countless people, all of whom were a better use of Oxygen than you. And Obama took out the only one on the planet who was an even bigger waste than you. Ooops, forgot Cheney on this list of wastes of Oxygen.

Oh, and imagine if Little Boots HAD gotten bin Laden before he exited?
Does anyone doubt they’d have been making plans to put him on Mt. Rushmore before the speech even ended on his teleprompter?
They’d have probably taken out that Socialist atheist Jefferson, and replaced him with the Christian Cowboy’s face or his manly-man codpiece. I would have pushed for both, so that future generations would know what an absolute dickhead he was.

I’m going to start a movement to take Lincoln off the penny, and replace him with Little Boots.
Pennies are about all some of us will have soon, and I’d like everyone to remember who got this country into such a sorry fucking state.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 5, 2011 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

So much blank, white paper, and the daily deadline LOOMS!

Posted by: DAY on May 5, 2011 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

of course Bush II is this immature. And frankly, he's smart not to go. All it would do is solidify in the minds of everyone that Obama accomplished what Bush failed to do. Period.

Posted by: Trinity on May 5, 2011 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

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

This could literally be a textbook example of projection for a psych 101 class.

Posted by: the seal on May 5, 2011 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

so my city won't have to inhale bush's stink for another day. good.

Posted by: benjoya on May 5, 2011 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, he is that immature, but I think the real reason isn't because of Obama giving Bush enough credit. Bush doesn't want to go to Ground Zero and get booed by all the people there, whom have VERY GOOD reason to boo him (and throw shoes at him) given all the crap that has happened while he was in office.

Posted by: AgentX on May 5, 2011 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

No sweat, I can't say what's going on inside the guys head (never could!) but if I never see him again it will be too soon. Maybe he has advanced dementia, oh wait!

Posted by: Trollop on May 5, 2011 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

I have no use for Bush in general but he has really stayed out of the public eye & may, with good reason, wish to continue to do so. There may also be a chance that his reception at the event may be less than friendly on the part of the public so I can see that he would just let it pass.

Posted by: gelfling545 on May 5, 2011 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

He considered the fighter pilot outfit, the fireman costume, a baseball uniform and cowboy gear. He wanted to be someone kids could look up to, but ultimately decided he had nothing left to wear.

Posted by: Danp on May 5, 2011 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Since we're on the subject of the disastrous Bush administration, why is Rumsfeld allowed to show his face on television? This man was an absolute disaster, but the Fox crowd is propping him up like a credible person.

I saw Colonel Lawrence Wilkinson on the Ed Show last night, and he was about to explode over Rumsfeld's comments. Wilkinson literally insulted him on the air.

Posted by: Holmes on May 5, 2011 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind that Scowcroft and sometimes Jim Baker among others supposedly speak directly for Papa Bush, so that Pops doesn't need to caterwaul or complain publicly. So, it could be greybeards voicing Sonny's feelings via Pops or it could be Pops himself bypassing Sonny and complaining.

Heck, it could even be mom. Now, that I think about it, maybe Ensign's parents bailing him out does make sense because Sonny Bush was almost always bailed out by his folks. With privileges come privileges, I guess.

Anyway, the greybeards (including Powell, if I recall correctly) were always presumed to be sources for deFrank.

Posted by: gus on May 5, 2011 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

@Holmes - hello! I LOVED it when Wilkerson said "I'd like to waterboard Donald Rumsfeld and then have him tell me it's not torture!"

Posted by: June on May 5, 2011 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

cund, you fucking rock!

Posted by: MsJoanne on May 5, 2011 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe it all boils down to Bush busting out the flight suit only to find out that Obama would arrive on the scene via a jetpack.

Even with an ample codpiece, a jetpack entrance (Winning the Future, don'tchaknow) would be intimidating.

Posted by: gus on May 5, 2011 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

I was hoping that bush was staying away because he had finally developed a sense of shame. No, he's not that deep. His feelings were hurt.

Buck up shrub, don your flight suit, hoist the "Mission Accomplished" Banner, and strut your stuff big man!!

Posted by: Jilli on May 5, 2011 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Setting aside the childish whining of the Bushies, the statement is factually inaccurate. Obama and everyone in his administration have repeatedly talked about the decade of work done by the intelligence community.

It's actually the Bushies that are desperately trying to validate torture and cover their asses, falsely claiming that torture was the primary reason for OBL's capture/killing.

Again, they are all a bunch of children.

Posted by: Holmes on May 5, 2011 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, come on. Look how gracious Ronald Reagan was toward Jimmy Carter, when he invited him to ...

... OK, bad example. But remember how W heaped praise on Bill Clinton when he ...

... OK, bad example.

All right, maybe they never gave their predecessors any credit. But surely you remember the outcry from those whining Democrats at these snubs. Like ... like ...

... well, obviously I'm going to need to do more research. I'll get back to you.

Posted by: beejeez on May 5, 2011 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Another reason to be thankful that the Michael Scott presidency ended two years ago.

Posted by: sublime33 on May 5, 2011 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Note to George W - elections have consequences.

Just consider for a minute what would happen if, based on intelligence collected in part by Bush era interrogations and investigation, the Seal Team 6 had arrived and killed a dozen or so mentally disabled school kids - the house was simply mis-information spread by lying captors at Gitmo to stop their torture. I doubt anyone would be blaming Bush, would they? Nope, it would all be Obama's fault.

Posted by: T2 on May 5, 2011 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Tora Bora - An event which will live in Infamy.

Tommy Franks, RumDumb, Cheney, Shrub - The Feckless Foursome.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 5, 2011 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

c u n d gulag.........you said it all ...... amen

Posted by: stormskies on May 5, 2011 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

If I were Bush, I probably wouldn't want to appear on the same platform with Obama either. Talk about uncomfortable for all sorts of reasons.

I imagine the cognitive dissonance among Republicans is extremely high right now; I imagine that Republican heads exploded when this despised, Muslim-loving, lily-livered, Mau-Mau anti-colonial sympathizer killed Osama, America's Public Enemy #1. Obama achieved what Bush, for all his belligerent strutting, failed to accomplish. Ouch.

Plus Bush's claim to fame is his war on Terror. Two unresolved wars and tens of thousands of deaths later, a secret ops raid involving good intelligence, a couple of helicopters and 25 Navy Seals takes out Osama in PAKISTAN. That has got to be embarrassing. GWB.Worst.President.Ever.

Finally, for Bush to appear with Obama would suggest that the Republicans and Democrats are united in their goals for the US. But Bush's whole presidency was founded on privileging his In-group (aka Republicans) against the interests Out-group (all other Americans). The War on Terror was just the means. To stand with Obama now, to celebrate an American victory, would require a largeness of spirit and genuine patriotism that we have never ever seen in GWB or his handlers.

And, of course, the ultimate uncomfortable fact is that killing Osama bin Laden was never a very high priority for GWB. He got much more political mileage from OBN alive than dead.

Posted by: PTate in Mn on May 5, 2011 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, it would have been very painful for Shrub to have to stand next to a legitimate Commander-in-Chief.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 5, 2011 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans are experts at pumping out this meta narrative, when they know they got nothing on the merits. Manners, hurt feelings, taste, projecting the right stuff, whathaveyou.

Bush and his team made torture official policy for the first time in the history of the republic. They bullshitted americans into Iraq to prevent "a mushroom cloud" and when we got their there were no wmds, but by then crucial resources had already been pulled away from Afghanistan and the fight against Al Qaeda and dedicated to Iraq for years to come. They create the structural deficits that we're still suffering from today (Bush tax cuts, medicare part D, the wars). Their economic policy finaly led to disaster in 2008 and we're still suffering the consequences.

The administration of George W Bush very nearly broke the greatest country on earth. The administration of Barack Obama has had to spend most of it's time cleaning up, and they still are.

And for all George W Bush did, for 7 long years he couldnt manage to deliver the one most important thing the american people wanted him to deliver. He couldnt bring the man who ordered the attack that killed over 3000 americans to justice.

Now the Obama admin has finished the job that Bush couldnt, delivering closure and peace of mind to everyone who lost a loved one or a friend on that day.

George W Bush and his old partners in crime should get down on their fucking knees and kiss Obamas feet in gratitude and shame if they had any decency whatsoever.

Instead his feelings are hurt over not getting more credit after being out of office for two and a half years. And the old cronies are working the media curcuits overtime pitching the virtues of torturing our enemies to the american people.


Posted by: Danny on May 5, 2011 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Thing is, the ground zero appearance is a victory lap for Obama. What else can you call it?

My guess: Bush recognizes all too well that Obama has succeeded where he failed, or at the very least knows that's how it appears to most others, and would feel impossibly awkward looking as if he believed he deserved to be in the spotlight with Obama in front of large numbers of people who disagree. And any attempt by him to insist that he did deserve it would make him look even worse.

As it is, he can plausibly pretend that he's graciously decided not to horn in on Obama's moment even if he doesn't think Obama should be getting all the credit. That's the only remotely positive impression that's within his power to create.

I agree with those who doubt he instructed the sources DeFrank cites to say what they did, and it's a good guess that it may have been Poppy who gave them an earful. On the other hand, W didn't tell them not to say it.

Posted by: Swift Loris on May 5, 2011 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with those who are skeptical of this report(zmulls said it especially well). Is it possible, even likely, that W. said that he doesn't feel like he's getting enough credit? Yes. But the whole Obama is arrogant and drove W away seems like spin by those senior Bushies who need to keep the conservative noise machine happy in order to keep cashing in. Obama is evil means you keep getting on Fox and get speakking gigs etc. W. wants to stay out of the spotlight and enjoy his golf means reporters get bored you're forgotten.

Posted by: Bill K. on May 5, 2011 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Immaturity and a never ending petulance are both hallmarks of today's republicans.

Not sure if Bush himself said that but whomever did knows how to play to the immaturity and the sense of white privledge of the republican base.

Posted by: Silver Owl on May 5, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Whether GWB shows up or not doesn't matter one iota. The next edition of Texas history books will give him full credit, and he'll take his rightful place beside St. Ronald of Reagan, who single-handedly brought the USSR to its knees.

Posted by: beep52 on May 5, 2011 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

If true, this is just one more mark against his character, which already has shown what I was brought up to consider major character flaws; lying, refusing to take responsibility, laziness, petulance and above all not admitting your mistakes.

He may have been raised in an entirely different milieu, but good character should be defined by common standards. His fails.

Posted by: jjm on May 5, 2011 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Bingo !

Bush doesn't want to go to Ground Zero and get booed by all the people there, whom have VERY GOOD reason to boo him (and throw shoes at him) given all the crap that has happened while he was in office.

I have no use for Bush in general but he has really stayed out of the public eye & may, with good reason, wish to continue to do so. There may also be a chance that his reception at the event may be less than friendly on the part of the public so I can see that he would just let it pass.
The burning sense you feel is called shame , Gov boosch .

Posted by: FRP on May 5, 2011 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, those maHvelous Texas history books of the future which will show Shrub rappeling into the compound, with a M-4 in one hand and the other over his cod piece flak protector. Why it will be right up there with "Remember the Alamo and our fight to keep slavery in Northern Mexico". Just love it when Texans talk about their fight for freedom against Mexico, but, for whom?

Posted by: berttheclock on May 5, 2011 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Let's give them all credit. And don't forget about Reagan either! Without him arming, funding, training and providing intelligence to bin Laden's holy war we wouldn't have had an enemy to kill.

Posted by: Chris-The Fold on May 5, 2011 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

I think Bush is unhappy because Obama actually went after Osama. After all, Bush had made the decision that Osama was no longer important in the GWOT, so who is Obama to come in and say he is? That's where the pique lies - that Obama dares to contradict Bush on the GWOT.

Posted by: BC on May 5, 2011 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

OK now...I hate Bush Jr with the best of them but ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? C'mon. He is not going because during his entire eight years he outsourced any important event to others. He would never put himself in a position to be criticized. He has hardly been out of his rabbit hole since 2008. This heresay crap by 'friends' and 'pundits' is just that...CRAP. Can we PLEASE keep our eyes on the ball?

Posted by: SYSPROG on May 5, 2011 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

This makes sense to me - remember, this is the guy who said the low point of his presidency was when Kanye West said he didn't care about black people.

Posted by: bobbo on May 5, 2011 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

CUNDG nailed it.

"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."

The notion that the Bush/Cheney intelligence infrastructure is being "hailed form the left" is a total fantasy.

Also, I agree with commenter that think Bush would get soundly booed by New Yorkers.

Finally, the visuals of this are all wrong for Shrub. He's a short, dumpy, close-eyed bungle tongue. Obama is a tall, athletic, articulate orator.

The stark difference would be obvious even to teabaggers.

Posted by: Winkandanod on May 5, 2011 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

After thinking about this for a few minutes, I'm willing to give a huge amount of credit to GWB for the OBL take down. After all, due to his laziness and dereliction of duty as CiC, OBL wouldn't have been alive for a serious CiC to deal with.

Posted by: Ken on May 5, 2011 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

what a sniveling baby...

Posted by: Alan on May 5, 2011 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

what a sniveling baby...

Posted by: Alan on May 5, 2011 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

If the roles were reversed, can you imagine Bush giving ANY credit to his predecessor?

I don't doubt that the work done under Bush made a difference in finally tracking down Bin Laden, but if he really feels 'snubbed', I would like to tell him to grow the hell up.

Posted by: short fuse on May 5, 2011 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is just further proof that bush was never really president.He was merely the puppet in which the stings were pulled by his advisers.Now the dummy is shuffled back into the closet , and his advisers (the real presidency) are there to petulantly respond.Notice they don't really care how this reflects on bush.

Posted by: Michael on May 5, 2011 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

The "explanation" for why Bush turned down the invite is just plain partisan politics. The giveaway -- "victory lap." The Frank Lutz memo has gone out. The coordination of right wing media is impressive indeed.

Posted by: batgirl on May 5, 2011 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

The butthurt with these people just never ends.

Posted by: Death Panel Truck on May 5, 2011 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

W Bush: what an infantile prick, and after Obama at least asking him, and after all that undeserved stroking by the right-wing media hackiverse ... Just assholes, beneath pathetic.
See http://rethug.com for more good scoop on this and that!

Posted by: neil b on May 5, 2011 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

In addition to being very petty about this, GWB dissolved the Bin Laden unit of CIA/etc! If characterization is true, what a prick.

Posted by: neil b. on May 5, 2011 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Jr Bush stole the election of 2004 with heavily fixed voting machines, and took office (2nd term) in 2005.

Osama is reported to have been living in his mansion since... 2005.

So he lived there for the entirety of bush's 2nd term.

What was the issue again with credit?

Posted by: bushwahd on May 5, 2011 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is just pissed because he didn't get OBL, so he didn't get OBL's AK-47 as a trophy to hang in the Bush Presidential Library next to Saddam's pistol.

Posted by: charlie don't surf on May 5, 2011 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a link to a burlesque routine from a few years ago which shows all of George W. Bush's petulance and disdain for foreign affairs:


Posted by: 'Stache on May 5, 2011 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK
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