Former President George W. Bush will be notably absent from the stage Monday as his successor, President Barack Obama, takes the oath of office to begin his second term.
Word the 43rd president was sending regrets came Friday. Kelly O’Donnell reported, "President and Mrs. Bush wish President Obama and his family all the best for a wonderful inaugural weekend."
The news came the same day a spokesman for President George H. W. Bush tweeted that the 41st president, recently released from a lengthy hospitalization, would also miss the event.
Former Presidents Clinton and Carter are attending.
There is precedent for former presidents skipping presidential inaugurations. Republican President Gerald Ford, for example, did not attend the second inauguration of President George W. Bush in 2005. He was 91 at the time.
The 43rd president—who has largely remained out of the spotlight since his second term ended—may want to remain close to home as his father recuperates.
An informal survey of our Twitter followers provoked a range of responses to his absence—everything from “good riddance” and speculation that he would have attended a Mitt Romney inauguration to, “who cares.”
Given the deeply entrenched partisanship that has defined much of President Obama’s first term, the attendance of a Republican president—especially one as polarizing as President George W. Bush—may have sent just the type of constructive message that city so badly needs.