The groundbreaking at Southern Methodist University for George W. Bush's presidential library next year should be celebrated with a "Mission Accomplished" banner. The team responsible for spearheading the library has navigated a variety of obstacles—political, legal, religious, financial—and now seems poised to declare victory.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library (January/February 2006)
An unauthorized preview, with never-before -seen drawings of the interior. A cartoon by Cullen Murphy and Edward Sorel
First came some SMU professors who took exception to the idea of welcoming a conservative think tank, which is a key component of the Bush library plan. There’s no precedent, the liberal professors argued, for an "academically-credible" university hosting a "partisan institute." And, in a campus newspaper op-ed, two professors went further, saying they didn’t want their university associated with "a legacy of massive violence, destruction, and death brought about by the Bush presidency."
This kind of protest is library politics as usual. These monuments to a president’s posterity are easy targets for an administration's critics, and ideologically opposed faculty are famous for crying NIMBY. “Duke objected to the Nixon library, Stanford objected to the Reagan library, and Harvard didn't want the Kennedy library on its campus—it wanted the school but not the library,” notes James “Skip” Rutherford, who led Bill Clinton’s presidential library project.