Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bush’s SMU Presidential Library, An Idea Whose Time Has Come

There has been this wild disconnect about SMU’s pitch to Dubya for him to build his presidential library on their campus. When I first heard about it, it was because of the emergence of a group that was opposed to the library on political and philosophical grounds. As seen last year in Texas Monthly about a story in the Dallas Morning News which carried a a quote from faculty, administrators, and staff of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology:

“We count ourselves among those who would regret to see SMU enshrine attitudes and actions widely deemed as ethically egregious: degradation of habeas corpus, outright denial of global warming, flagrant disregard for international treaties, alienation of long-term U.S. allies, environmental predation, shameful disrespect for gay persons and their rights, a pre-emptive war based on false and misleading premises, and a host of other erosions of respect for the global human community and for this good Earth on which our flourishing depends.”
There was that and the controversial alleged bullying that went on with regard to owners of University Gardens condominiums which were standing on land that SMU needed in order to build the library. This continuing controversy appears to be the origin of the release of secret SMU documents, documents that have been read and analyzed by the Dallas Morning News. Documents that finally reveal why SMU ever thought that having the Bush library on its campus was a grand idea at all, especially in light of the thoughts and opinions of those who work on the campus.

These documents are a behind the scenes glimpse of SMU’s early desire for a Bush library, and how it gathered political and social connections to carry out their plan, including using Dallas oil millionaire Ray Hunt of Hunt Oil Company. Hunt is an SMU alumnus as well as a current sitting board member of the SMU Board of Trustees. It was at a private dinner at the White House in early 2001 that the idea of a presidential library at SMU was broached with Bush.

That SMU is continuing its heavy handed effort to attract the Bush library to its campus is astounding considering the apparent widespread opposition to the library by faculty members and the apparent misuse of eminent domain to acquire the land upon which the University Gardens condominiums are built upon.

In retrospect, however, you have to conclude that SMU is the perfect site for the Bush library. What is more appropriate than to carry out a project in spite of the fact that the people so vociferously oppose it? What better place to build it except upon land stolen from private citizens by heavy-handed bullying tactics? What better place to put it than in an urban setting on a postage stamp sized piece of land (10 acres) instead of Baylor University’s proffered 150 sprawling acres on the banks of the Brazos River?

SMU is a perfect place for George W. Bush’s presidential library. It captures the spirit of the Bush Regime like no other place does.


Hardy Haberman said...

It will be a fitting legacy for Bush to have his library in the midst of a town full of the super-rich. Lying on the border of University Park the Bush Library will serve to continue the spirit of deception that has marked his presidency.

I suspect the only part open to the public will be the rest rooms. Everything else will be secret!

Anonymous said...

Rest rooms probably only open to heterosexuals . . .

Anonymous said...

I am just ecstatic it didn't end up at my alma mater, University of Dallas. The shame I would have felt.