George W. Bush is far too classy to say it in public, but those close to him say that he feels slighted by Obama's "victory lap" at Ground Zero today.
New York Daily News:
"[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."
Bush spokesman David Sherzer said Bush "appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight."
Associates familiar with his thinking say Bush does not believe Obama or his handlers wanted to exploit his presence. But the tag-team idea "was for the benefit of Obama, and Obama withheld credit from people Bush believes deserved it," a source said.
This is all true, and Obama could have been less clumsy in handling the moment. But in this case, Bush is wishing for something that Obama can't give him. The complaint would have come from a Democrat if the rolls had been reversed and a Republican president was in office simply because of the nature of the presidency and the demands of politics. This is a huge moment with large political implications. Sharing it equally would have been beyond magnanimous for Obama - it would have been stupid politics.
The trick is to politicize the event without appearing to do so. It's a very fine line that Obama has failed to walk. His pious calls for "unity" ring hollow in the face of what Bush called "a victory lap."