University Park residents to weigh in on Bush Library

January 20, 2007

University Park residents to weigh in on Bush Library
By Pegasus News wire
Saturday, January 20, 2007

University Park – A public hearing has been scheduled for University Park residents to put in their two cents about the impact they feel the Bush Library coming to SMU would have on their neighborhood. A public hearing has been scheduled for February 6th. Ultimately, the citizens of University Park will need to approve the library if it is to be built at Potomic Park as planned. A charter amendment in University Park ensures that any non-park structure build in a park area cannot exceed 5,000 square feet without the public’s approval. The Bush Library would take up about 30,000 square feet of space.

Letters to the Dallas Morning News: Thoughts on the Bush library

January 20, 2007

Letters: Thoughts on the Bush library
Dallas Morning News
Saturday, January 20, 2007

Most faculty opposition is due to Bush Institute

Many Southern Methodist University faculty members object not to the Bush library, but to the accompanying policy institute, which was not part of the original proposal.

The White House introduced the idea of an institute to SMU in July 2005. Even then, only a few insiders knew anything about it, let alone that it would be entirely under the control of the Bush Foundation.

University President Gerald Turner first mentioned the institute to a broader segment of the faculty only last month. Still, the plan did not become widely known until he announced that SMU had been named the sole finalist for the library.

A Bush institute on campus would radically and irrevocably alter the ethos of academic life at SMU and change forever the way the world sees us. It would do so in ways that a library, or library-plus-school, would not. The question is not why we waited so long to voice our concerns, but rather why plans emerged only at the 11th hour.

Beth Newman, associate professor of English, Southern Methodist University, Dallas

SMU can’t pass up such a great opportunity

As an alumnus, I am proud SMU may become home of the Bush library and embarrassed by the mean-spirited, shamelessly political attempts by a few faculty and Methodist leaders to derail the project.

It is almost amusing that those who preach tolerance and academic freedom find little place for either when a Republican is involved. History will judge Mr. Bush’s performance as president. The opportunity to host a presidential library is a wonderful one that SMU should seize, notwithstanding these unfortunate distractions.

Sam Long, Dallas

More letters here.

Here is an example of why the Bush Institute would damage SMU

January 20, 2007

Alan Wolfe reviewed Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. Note the final sentence. Will this be the kind of “scholarship” produced by the Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University?

At one point in “The Enemy at Home,” D’Souza appeals to “decent liberals and Democrats” to join him in rejecting the American left. Although he does not name me as one of them, I sense he is appealing to people like me because I write for The New Republic, a liberal magazine that distances itself from leftism. So let this “decent” liberal make perfectly clear how thoroughly indecent Dinesh D’Souza is. Like his hero Joe McCarthy, he has no sense of shame. He is a childish thinker and writer tackling subjects about which he knows little to make arguments that reek of political extremism. His book is a national disgrace, a sorry example of a publishing culture more concerned with the sensational than the sensible. People on the left, especially those who have been subjects of D’Souza’s previous books, will shrug their shoulders at his latest screed. I look forward to the reaction from decent conservatives and Republicans who will, if they have any sense of honor, distance themselves, quickly and cleanly, from the Rishwain research scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Read the entire review here.

The Biggest Man on Campus

January 20, 2007

The Biggest Man on Campus
New York Times
January 20, 2007

WHEN I was a graduate student at Duke in 1981, the university was faced with a difficult decision: Should it accept the papers of its law school alumnus, Richard M. Nixon, and build a library and museum named for one of the most controversial presidents in American history? Some within the university said that to accept the papers would be to embrace a failed president who resigned in disgrace to avoid impeachment. Others argued that the documents would be a treasure trove for future scholars seeking to understand what happened during the turbulent years of the Nixon presidency.

At the time I had the luxury of watching this drama unfold from the sidelines. Today I do not. As the director of a center for political studies at Southern Methodist University, I was invited to sit on an academic planning committee for the George W. Bush presidential library. By agreeing to serve on this committee, I took a stand in favor of Southern Methodist University’s bid for the library, in part because I think Duke made a mistake in not accepting the Nixon library.

George W. Bush – like Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter in their day – is a controversial president for difficult times. But we must put partisanship aside and strive for historical perspective. We must consider the importance of having presidential libraries to help generations of scholars understand the times in which we live, and to inform future policy debates.

Whether one supports or opposes the Bush policies, there is no question that they have been momentous for the country and the world. Precisely because of the controversial nature of this presidency, the question of how George W. Bush made his decisions begs for scholarly research and discourse. The library will be a gold mine for scholars, and its location on a university campus symbolizes the need for study.

Continued here.

Archives of Spin

January 20, 2007

Archives of Spin
The New York Times
January 20, 2007

SINCE Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the first federal presidential library – actually an archive and history museum – in 1941, each president has had a hand in developing his own memorial. The National Archives and Records Administration now oversees 11 presidential libraries that draw about two million tourists and thousands of scholars each year.

The uproar over President Bush’s plans to store his papers at Southern Methodist University has drawn new attention to the role of our system of presidential libraries. It is a system facing at least six challenges that need to be addressed by Congress, current and former presidents, host universities and the American public.

First, according to the Office of Presidential Libraries, it will take up to 100 years for the papers and records at the recent presidential libraries to be processed, primarily because of an explosion in the number of records created by the executive branch. The Roosevelt Library has 17 million pages of documents, while the Clinton Library has more than 76 million, but the number of archivists has not kept pace.

A wait of 100 years is unacceptable. To be able to learn from our history, scholars, journalists and the public need access to a majority of records in presidential libraries within 20 years after a president leaves office. To meet this challenge, the newer libraries must add a substantial number of archivists, as well as new processing protocols and systems.

Second, we should insist on historical accuracy, completeness and balance in the museums in presidential libraries. Although the federal government’s Office of Presidential Libraries states that the museum exhibits in presidential libraries should be accurate, historical amnesia is common in relation to a president’s mistakes and controversial policies. For example, the museum in the Reagan Library does not mention the Iran-contra scandal.

The exhibits in newer presidential libraries often amount to little more than extended campaign commercials in museum form, because the former president and his supporters essentially control the content. If a president wants a museum of political propaganda, let him make that plain by not asking the federal government to administer it, but instead raising the large endowment needed to run it as a private memorial.

Since 99 percent of visitors to presidential libraries are there for the museum exhibits, this is an important issue. The exhibitions in older libraries usually improve after the president dies and the power of his supporters slowly wanes, but it should not take 20 to 50 years to get historically accurate displays in taxpayer-supported museums.

Continued here.