Houston Chronicle Joins Chorus Questioning Library Secrecy

January 28, 2007

From yesterday’s Houston Chronicle. This piece makes a similar point as the Times editorial today and offers an implicit opening for SMU leaders to help fix the presidential library system even as they try to land its latest addition.

Ponying up to the shrine; into the health care debate
Cragg Hines
Houston Chronicle
January 27, 2007

A university of any pretensions should be slobberingly eager to house a president’s archive, be he warlord, prophet of peace or thundering dud.

Unfortunately, the mass of executive papers that researchers will mine for years tends to come these days as part of a non-negotiable package that includes what amounts to a shrine to the former leader.

The papers can be pristinely preserved and managed by the National Archives and Records Administration, but accompanying museums/centers/institutes exist in large part to tend the past leader’s flame if not be the actual home of any post-White House dips by the former leader into national or international affairs.

Continued here.


NY Times Warns of Secrecy in Library, Fundraising

January 28, 2007

An excellent piece in today’s Times that calls on SMU to step up to the plate by insisting on some terms for the acceptance of the library and institute — the revocation of President Bush’s executive order that grants him and his designees unprecedented and perpetual authority to control access to Presidential documents, and information about the financial contributors to the library. Many faculty members have expressed concern that SMU President Gerald Turner is acting like a supplicant desperate to land the library and institute, and called on him to negotiate from a position of strength appropriate for an excellent university with which the Bush Library and Institute would benefit from being associated. SMU is now in the national spotlight, and this is our chance to shine.

The George W. Bush Library: Scholarly Mecca or $500 Million Oxymoron?
Dorothy Samuels
The New York Times
January 28, 2007

The news reports that President Bush’s representatives seem to be closing in on a deal to put a half-billion-dollar presidential library and policy institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas has inspired the predictable lame jokes and references to “The Pet Goat.”

But the project raises issues that are no laughing matter, touching on the writing of history, the university’s scholarly mission, governmental integrity and the rule of law.

S.M.U.’s negotiations regarding Mr. Bush’s library are bound to have a large public impact, which is why I’m hoping that the university’s president, R. Gerald Turner, and members of his board of trustees (presuming Laura Bush, the best-known trustee, has removed herself from the deliberations) can be persuaded to withhold a final go-ahead unless two basic conditions are met.

Continued here.