Today, Karen Travers of ABC News penned a story for the web about President George W. Bush’s decision to decline President Obama’s invitation to visit Ground Zero with him. She examined President Bush’s consistent commitment to not engage in the politics of the day. Her story can be found here – “Bush, True to His Word, Lies Low After Bin Laden Killing.” My comments from the piece are below.
Some Bush aides acknowledged that Bush’s returning to the spotlight could reignite the arguments over his administration’s policies on terrorism, but they also said that a day like today is not the time to have those debates.
Scott Stanzel, who served as a White House deputy press secretary and worked for Bush for nearly a decade, said the policy discussion is “unavoidable.”
“That would be a natural discussion. It’s a discussion that’s ongoing even without President Bush attending the activities today at Ground Zero or doing any interviews about this,” Stanzel said.
President George H. W. Bush was defeated in his bid for reelection by Bill Clinton and he held his tongue during Clinton’s two terms in office. In recent years, the two have developed a warm friendship and even joke about Clinton being part of the family.
Stanzel said that “absolutely without question” the former president was influenced by the example set by his father.
“President Bush has patterned his post-presidency with his father’s time in mind,” Stanzel told ABC News. “I don’t think there is anyone out there who would say that President George H. W. Bush wasn’t gracious to President Clinton. Former presidents can be a resource for each other.”
Stanzel said Bush appreciated that his predecessors took the same approach, showing respect to the current occupant of the Oval Office.
Former President Jimmy Carter has been an exception to that unwritten club rule, publicly criticizing both the Obama administration and Bush administration on foreign policy.