World leaders hoping to meet President-elect Obama at an economic summit this weekend in Washington will be disappointed.
Obama doesn't plan to be in the nation's capital or receive foreign visitors in Chicago over the weekend. He long ago ruled out attending the summit, saying the nation has only one president at a time, and it's still George W. Bush.
The president-elect has several reasons to avoid the scene, even though he has expressed strong interests in international affairs and leaders.
He could be accused of stealing scenes and acting presumptuous if he received world leaders at a Washington site while Bush makes one more stab at battling the global economic crisis. And the more closely he ties himself to that effort – physically and philosophically – the more he risks being associated with any new economic pain that arises in the next few weeks.
“He wants a clean, clear demarkation between the Bush administration and the Obama administration,” said Thomas Mann, a scholar at the Brookings Institution public policy center.
Before the election, Bush announced that the world's 20 largest industrialized nations and emerging economies would meet in Washington on Saturday. Obama has consistently said not to expect his presence.
Obama assailed Bush throughout his campaign for pushing “failed policies,” and he pledged to bring change after eight years of GOP rule. Under the best of circumstances, Obama will inherit the worst U.S. economic conditions since the Great Depression, and keeping some distance from Bush will help him chart his own course.
A new Associated Press-GfK poll found most people voicing confidence that Obama will be able to turn the sagging economy around when he takes office in January.