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Comments on Presidential Libraries

The New York Times Jan. 21 opinion piece by Stanley Fish of Duke University commended the George W. Bush’s Presidential Library be housed at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Writing opinions can be dangerous. Fish’s little bit of opinion brought 105 comments in two days to the Times. I learned a lot about these so-called presidential libraries. They are good for researchers to cull through. But they will have already been “edited” by the presidents. For example, Nixon’s papers while president are still not in his <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />California library.

One of the first things George W. Bush did upon becoming president was to seal his papers and his father’s papers forever if his descendents desire it. This order applied to both his time as governor of Texas and as president, and his father as vice president and president. That means Iran-Contra will remain a mystery to everybody but Ollie North.

There were several interesting suggestions as to where to locate the Bush Library. Here are some of the comments:

“Heretofore and forthwith, all presidential libraries shall be consigned to the vacant storefronts in the downtowns of many small cities across the land as testament to the self-inflicted demise of the American Dream.”

“I can see only three possible sites for the George W. Bush library: (1) Baghdad, built out of the protective armor that our troops have so desperately needed but cannot get. (2) The lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans because the land is cheap, the site is clear and the stench of incompetence is everywhere (3) The Exxon Mobil headquarters in Irving, Texas, built with the billions of huge corporate profits stolen from the average American worker.”

“Why not privatize the George Bush Library? Sell it to the highest bidder. Use the proceeds to pay down our national debt and see which influence peddler is willing to bid the highest to keep their secrets secret.”

“Do we need a George W. Bush library? Possibly we could have a George W. Bush movie theater.”

“Could it perhaps be a branch of the Cheney Library at the ArmyWarCollege?”

A guy from Arlington wrote: “We should put it at UT Arlington to recover some of the $200 million-plus we lost in the Texas Rangers baseball tax scam.”

Then there were comments with a stronger sense of humor. One wrote: “Will visitors to the Bush Library be given crayons to use when looking at the president’s coloring books?”

Another writer got his allegories mixed a bit: “If I were a reputable institution of higher learning I would not want to be associated with what will no doubt be another attempt to re-write the inconvenient realty.” (Evidently “inconvenient reality” comes from Al Gore’s film, “Inconvenient Truth.”)

A very sarcastic comment suggested four steps to establishing a fitting memorial: (1) Torture the faculty and students to agree to the library and museum; (2) Fund it with regressive taxes collected from those below the poverty level; (3) Keep its existence secret from U.S. citizens; (4) Accuse anyone who is against it of treason, of giving aid and comfort to the enemy and being soft on national security.”

One fellow suggested: “Presidential attempts to memorialize themselves by the use of a library is in and of itself a political act. Not to mention a colossal waste of money. I don’t recall the world being a lesser place because there is no Franklin Pierce Memorial Library.”

My personal opinion is I am glad BaylorUniversity was not chosen for the nearby Crawford resident’s library.

As I said, writing opinions can be dangerous. Careful readers are sharp and have even been known to see stuff the writer never intended. I have had that happen more than once. Good, I always say, they read it! We read our own views into what others write, which is what freedom of speech is all about. We lose that and we can say goodbye to the four freedoms that make our nation so great.

Britt Towery is a former Baptist missionary and free-lance writer.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />