It always seems to be that way-the outgoing president and VP are escorted to the helicoptor, right after the inauguration.
Today, Bush, Bush Sr, Cheney, (along with Laura, Barbara, and Lynn), all left before the celebratory luncheon. Considering that all of the other former presidents, VPs, and First and Second ladies were there, what gives?
I think it’s part of the tradition that outgoing President’s get the hell out of the way to allow the new guy the chance to work the room without the just-former-most-powerful hanging around and being a distraction.
Hell, time was the outgoing President immediately headed for Union Station and took the train home as soon as he saw the new one sworn in. No nothing. Some of them walked. It’s not far.
It would be awkward and disruptive for the outgoing president to be there and share the limelight with the new president. Also, even if the outgoing prez was specifically invited, he’d probably turn it down because he genuinly feels like leaving Washington and going home to relax.
The other former presidents were there but the public has had a few years to distance them from the office they once held.