An article from an historian and former National Archives Nixon tapes archivist.
When Archivists Deal with Power Players
History News Network
March 5, 2007
President George W. Bush reportedly is leaning toward Southern Methodist University (SMU) as the site of his Presidential Library, which will be administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). A handful of people negotiate site selection for a Presidential Library. A history professor at SMU has posted on his blog articles reflecting various perspectives. But there are no opportunities during this process for faculty members and the President of the United States to discuss the different worlds in which they work.
Politicians often face mudslinging by opponents. They can easily lose sight of the value of objective analysis. Screening out sycophancy among one’s advisers also is a challenge in the halls of power. Not all who analyze history’s lessons are a White House’s enemies, but a President (Democratic or Republican) may come to view them as such.
How prepared is any President to leave the shelter provided by loyal aides and to hand over control of historical information to objective, nonpartisan federal archivists? My experiences show very different reactions by two Watergate principals.