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Barack Obama deserves credit...again. Just like I believe President Obama deserves great credit for his pursuit of bin Laden and his ultimate decision to execute the operation to bring him down, I think President Obama has - at least in the public eye - continued to play down the politics of bin Laden's death.
Obviously the same cannot be said about his political allies on the left, as I explained in detail here. But Barack Obama has stayed above board, which by the way, is quite presidential. And while he hasn't gone anywhere close to extremes to credit his predecessor in this particular incident, he has made appropriate and meaningful gestures in that regard.
Take for instance, Obama's invitation to former President Bush to join him today at Ground Zero in New York to mark the death of Osama bin Laden. Classy move. Politically motivated? I don't really care. It's a classy move. Unfortunately, President Bush decided to decline the invitation:
Former President George W. Bush will not be joining President Obama during a Thursday event at Ground Zero to mark the death of Osama bin Laden.
Obama had invited his predecessor to a ceremony at the site of 9/11 attacks in New York City.
Bush appreciates the invitation, "but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight," said spokesman David Sherzer.
Sherzer added that Bush "continues to celebrate with all Americans this important victory in the war on terror."
I'm sure he does. But in my book, this is a trip the former president needs to make. Talking with a colleague today about the left's attempts to deny Bush any credit on the killing of bin Laden, he made the point that such complaints lose a little bit of muster when someone on the left like Obama does reach out to President Bush only to be rebuffed.
Perhaps Bush thinks this is going to be another Paul Ryan or Supreme Court justice moment - where President Obama invites his adversary to join him, only to rake them over the coals in front of millions while they're forced to sit there silently. I can't imagine that would be the case here...and even so, Bush should have gone.
Perhaps Bush thinks this would be hurtful to conservatives who can now take advantage of the left's politicizing of the bin Laden death, and he is staying away to prevent Obama from being able to have an image to use showing him as a "uniter." To me, that shouldn't matter...he should have gone.
Perhaps Bush is simply fed up with Barack Obama's behavior over the last two years of blaming him for anything and everything, and simply doesn't want to be around the guy. Understandable, but this is bigger than all that...and I think he should have gone.
Or perhaps the statement made from Mr. Sherzer is precisely his reasoning - he wants to stay out of the spotlight and not make this about him. Clearly President Bush has visited and grieved with 9/11 families. Clearly he is moved by this entire storyline.
So there is a high degree of likelihood the statement from his spokesman is the exact reason. And while that is something I can respect, this is one of those moments that I think the President has to put aside those feelings, honor the kind gesture of President Obama and go to the ceremony.
If someone wants to say that Obama's playing me for a fool because he is making public gestures like this as a sign of goodwill all while pulling strings behind the scene to have his underlings like Feinstein and Frank attempt to discredit Bush and the right, so be it. Until I have some sort of evidence for that, I am more than willing to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt on this one.
His gesture to George W. Bush was appropriate and fitting. It wasn't something he had to do or needed to do. But he did. And I think George Bush should have taken him up on the offer. It would have been a powerful sign of bipartisanship and unity that the country would benefit from.