Monday, December 18, 2006

W's Presidential Library

"The George W. Bush Presidential Library"--the ultimate oxymoron. And yet three Texas universities (SMU, Baylor, and the University of Dallas) are vying for the dubious honor of being the site of W's library. An article in Inside Higher Ed today discusses what's going on behind the scenes at SMU, once considered to be the front runner in this competition. Dick Cheney used to be a trustee, and Laura Bush is both an alumna and a trustee. In addition, SMU recently was victorious in lawsuit in which it alleged its right to tear down a condomium complex it had purchased to have room to build the Bush library. However, there is a fly in the ointment.

According to the article, "professors at SMU are circulating an open letter calling for the university to have a full discussion of the implications of being host to the Bush library. Several recent press reports have quoted Bush advisers as saying that SMU has the edge and that the library's affiliated think tank will encourage scholarship with a specific [i.e., conservative] political agenda." Apparently, the professors don't disagree in principle with a Bush presidential library where objective scholarship would be generated; however, they do object to a center part of whose mission it would be to hire scholars who would be charged with producing books and papers praising the Bush Administration and its policies.

The best part of the article might actually be the readers' comments that follow it. They are numerous and extremely outspoken, and come from both sides of the political aisle.

No comments: