President George W. Bush ’68 and first lady Laura Bush do not plan to attend either of their daughters’ college graduation ceremonies this May, the White House announced Thursday.
Barbara Bush ’04 and her twin sister Jenna Bush are both set to graduate this month. Barbara Bush will graduate from Yale with a degree in Humanities, and Jenna Bush will graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English.
The decision not to attend was made out of respect for the other students, Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for Laura Bush, told the Associated Press.
“The Bushes felt the focus should be on the students, and not how long the lines are to go through metal detectors,” Johndroe said.
As of last Friday, Yale Chief of Police James Perrotti had not been told whether George Bush would, in fact, be present at Yale’s Commencement, he said. State and federal agencies plan to security at graduation, regardless of Bush’s presence, Perrotti said.
“Security will be greatly enhanced, not only for graduation, but also in the weeks ahead of graduation, in light of what happened last year,” Perrotti said, referring to the bombing at the Law School last May.
Secret Service representatives were not available for comment Thursday.
Yale College Democrats Vice-President Andrew O’Connor ’05 said he thinks the president and his wife made the proper choice not to come.
“I think that it was a good decision on their part, because it would have been burdensome on other families,” O’Connor said.
Conservative Party Vice-Chairman Benjamin Pollack ’06 expressed frustration that George Bush would not be in attendance.
“I am disappointed that the president won’t be coming to Commencement,” Pollack said. “The model of leadership and principle that he has shown so far would be a good example to the graduating students.”
No one from the White House was available to confirm whether George Bush’s father, President George Herbert Walker Bush ’48, would be in attendance.