This is extremely unlikely to convince anybody of anything that they don’t already believe, but does provide some entertainment . . .
by Jaime O’Neill | May 10 2007 – 9:14am | permalink
I said I was looking for a book to read, Laura said you ought to try Camus. I also read three Shakespeares. … I’ve got a eck-a-lec-tic reading list.”
–George W. Bush, interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, New Orleans, La., Aug. 29, 2006
In anticipation of the day when George W. Bush is no longer in office, it is perhaps appropriate to give some thought to the prospect of a George W. Bush Presidential Library. The concept may seem oxymoronic to some. After all, how do we go about building a library for a man who appears so proud of his alienation from printed matter? He boasts of not reading newspapers, and there is little to be found in any of his public statements to suggest a familiarity with any book, whatsoever. The thought of our current president reading, say, Shakespeare, defies imagining. It is difficult to think of him reading Danielle Steele, or John Grisham, let alone the Bard of Avon.
But if the Bush presidency has been about anything, it’s been about breaking free of the fetters of the traditional past. It was the Bush presidency, after all, that did away with the fussy old notion about the U.S. not engaging in unilateral acts of first-strike aggression against sovereign nations. It was George Bush, after all, who redefined a “conservative” as someone who believed in enormous deficits. And it was the Bush administration that accelerated the separation of language from action by constantly saying one thing while meaning another; i.e. “Clear Skies” initiatives, and “No Child Left Behind.”
Given all that, it may turn out that the George W. Bush Presidential Library (or, perhaps, “Liberry”) will be equally surprising in the ways it breaks with tradition, and with meaning.
But one tradition that probably won’t be broken is the time-honored practice of commemorating presidential bon mots by chiseling them in marble. Immortal ideas expressed in the president’s own immortal language.
Consider what might be chiseled in stone over the door to the education wing of the Bush Liberry, for instance. “Is Our Children Learning?” would make a most fitting presidential quote emblazoned above the portal to the Bush Hall of Lurning, a monument to the Bush administration’s heroic struggle to improve American education. Or, if a more timeless quality is required for future visitors to the Bush Liberry, the president’s observation from January 23, 2004, might suffice: “The illiteracy level of our children are appalling.”