Former President George W. Bush is still a polarizing figure, even nearly four years after his term ended. To be sure, part of this comes down to the Obama administration's obsessive focus on painting the recession as an "inherited" problem from the former President, but even without their constant drumbeat of criticism, Bush's shadow still looms large over the GOP and the country as a whole.
Because of this, Bush's particularly memorable character could have complicated the GOP's election strategy this year, if the former President had been a visible presence. To this date, he hasn't been, and the only chance he would have had to be such a presence would have been to speak at the RNC convention.
Fortunately for Republicans with concerns about Bush's presence, though, that will not happen. The former President is apparently sick of politics and has declined the invitation to speak. Politico reports:
“President Bush was grateful for the invitation to the Republican National Convention,” Bush spokesman Freddy Ford wrote in an e-mail. “He supports Governor Romney and wants him to succeed. President Bush is confident that Mitt Romney will be a great President. But he’s still enjoying his time off the political stage and respectfully declined the invitation to go to Tampa.”
Asked if the former president had been invited to only attend or whether he was also asked to speak, Ford said the conversation didn’t get that far and the former president declined “before details were discussed.”
This is a pretty strong reaction from a former President. Not that you can really blame Bush - he did run a gauntlet of criticism so harsh and unrelenting that it gave rise to the term "Bush derangement syndrome." It would make sense if he didn't want to force current GOP nominee Mitt Romney to run that gauntlet as well, or if he just wanted to avoid having it resuscitated period. Whatever the former President's motives, his tenure in office will remain out of the sun.