Monday, January 22, 2007

And 'round we go again

My Dallas Observer colleague Jim Schutze blogs about Library Bush today in response to the Dallas Morning Snooze's editorial in support of the edifice complex:

The Morning News editorial page’s notion that this president’s library can be some kind of high-minded forum is a pathetic self-delusion, an ugly joke and a monstrous lie. What Dallas and SMU will get from George W. will be a huge neon phallus, lit by lasers, intended to deflect attention from what history is about to do to his real one. And to us.
Read the entire Schutze blog entry at Unfair Park.

Know that phrase "teachable moment"? Seems there could be a great many teachable moments in this university's classes about the liberry sitch-ee-ay-shun. Ethics classes, political science, debate, history, public relations, theology--every one of them should be discussing it and assigning essays and research papers on the topic.

Like, what do presidential libraries really do? What do they add to the other institutions they're attached to (such as Bush 41's at A&M)? Which of them gets the most visitors each year? Which one loses money and costs taxpayers to keep it open?

And what has this president contributed to the cause of education? Specifically, to higher education?

How will a conservative "think tank," part of the library deal, peg this school as conservative-welcome/liberal-be-damned? How will the diversity of the student body and the faculty feel the impact of such an influx of far-righties? How soon before it's little more than the western campus of Bob Jones U.?

And what about the security issues? Land use issues? How will the building of the Bush 43 pyramid of power affect the neighborhood that surrounds it? This is a landlocked area, surrounded on one side by a freeway that's already a parking lot at rush hours, and on the other three sides by narrow residential streets that can hardly handle heavy traffic by big machinery, trucks and other construction vehicles.

So many issues, so little time.

And to all those Methodists, faculty members and others who are just now waking up to the reality of this awful carbuncle about to be planted on University Park and are making pathetic little squeaks of dissent, where the fuck were you six years ago?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thought process in general that Bush would have a library is just so backwards to me that I can not comprehend it. What sort of literature are they going to house in this library? Judy Blume, Curious George, and coloring books?

I fully understand the issues of great minded folks at SMU not wanting this monument to mediocracy located on their campus. But, as a Baylor University alum, it pains me to think that it might end up in Waco if it doesn't stay at SMU.

Please forgive me.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that it is a wonderful thing that SMU is (as far as we know) getting the George W Library. They've been wanting it for so long now, and have quickly created a School of Education in less than one semester, fabricated an "engineering study" to condemn student housing that didn't suck nearly as much as the student housing that was left standing, and kicked a bunch of 90-year-old widows out of their retirement homes to do it. Hard work on SMU's part - they deserve it.

Of course, they also deserve the clogged traffic, increased parking problems, the cuts in donations to the Capital Campaign that will be re-routed to the library by donors who like SMU but like Bush more, the writing-of-checks for any amount the school has to cough up for the library, and any notoriety that comes from whatever history decides about GWB.

I have watched the library matter unfold alongside the fact that SMU is letting in so many students it's bursting at the seams. We *are* landlocked and desperately need more building space. Students can't get into the classes they need because there's no classroom space (or space for offices for more professors!) Some profs are teaching six sections a semester and there's still not room for everyone to take the classes they need in order to graduate on time.

$500 million dollars for a library, and we have broken desks in Clements that haven't been replaced since before 2001.

Anyway, congratulations SMU! May you be very careful what you want, as you may one day get it.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some facts for the good of the order:

Most SMU faculty recognized the potential value in terms of research and the training of future scholars of having a presidential archive on campus. Concerns were expressed about how open the archive might actually be, but the primary objections/concerns have always had to do with the costs associated with building the library and the effect those costs might have on faculty development and scholarship funding (not to mention the fact that this is a campus with not nearly enough classroom or office space, let alone student housing). The original proposal also included a “school of government,” and, again, the objections were to the costs, not to the potential for creating another potentially solid academic program.

The switch in the proposal from the school of government to the “Bush Institute” was not made known until early in the fall of 2006, which is also when objections to the project began to grow. Details about what this institute will be, how/if it will be affiliated with SMU, how it will be funded, etc. are vague at best, and much of the caution (which has been widely misrepresented in the pres) has to do with the lack of information coming from both administrations (Bush’s and SMU’s).

Finally, the principled objections emanating from the United Methodist Church are not being coordinated from within the SMU immediate community—even though some of the leaders of those efforts were either trained at Perkins or were graduates of other parts of the university. (And they are distinct from a third group of dissenters within the school of theology itself.) In fact, there is a concern within the faculty about the (unlikely) disaffiliation of the university from the Methodists—concerns that this would make the university all the more likely to continue to be taken down the wrong path.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Steves' Market & Deli said...

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6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the library was originally proposed, it did not have some ideologically motivated think tank attached. Frankly, I'm not jumping up and down about the library, but it is not nearly the problem in my mind that the neo-conservative think tank is. Had they been truthful about their intentions, opposition would have come to the fore earlier.

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we'll end up with is Dallas becoming bad mojo for Presidents. GWB will most likely go down as one of the worst presidents in history and his library and think-tank will be here, along with the Kennedy assassination site. Maybe they should build W's library in the old school book depository and make the whole thing even more depressing.

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, you seem awfully hateful toward a group who is joining your cause, prof!

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Hillary said...

Another argument to add to how this Library is a bad idea...
I don't know if there are any other SMU students on these comments, but have you noticed the extra $7,000 a year tacked on to our tuition?!?
Surely all the money dumped on government projects won't be dumped into this library. Nooo, the students will be paying for it and we didn't even have a say as to yay or nay.
The worst thing is the kind of students SMU will attract. First off the student must afford SMU (wealthy) and the student must not be opposed to the highly conservative reputation (highly conservative). Like there's not enough of these kids on campus... Goodbye any lick of diversity we had left.
I will be so happy to graduate.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous HEM said...

The idea of a partisan Bush Institute was not known to the faculty until just recently.

See Susanne Johnson's opinion piece in today's DMN:

2:58 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

How will a conservative "think tank," part of the library deal, peg this school as conservative-welcome/liberal-be-damned?

I notice there is never any discussion about how the vast majority of Universities in this country are already liberal-welcome/conservative-be-damned. But hey, that's what you can expect from the compassionate, inclusive left.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim Schutze's column adds nothing to the debate.

The amount of land available on a campus is relevant to the debate, if the Presidential Library is to be associated with a university. (It does not have to be on a campus, that is discretionary, not mandatory.) The external architecture of the repository is irrelevant. The inside should meet climate control standards for preservation of paper based, electronic and audiovisual records. The records themselves belong to the government not the Bush foundation or a university. They could just as well be placed in Washington, DC with other government records.

The Bush Library, like all the other presidential libraries, except the privately administered Nixon library, will be run by the National Archives which is part of the federal government and is headed by an historian. People, this isn't hidden information, take a look at

Why so many people started charging into battle, beginning in December with the first news reports, without checking out the lay of the land first is beyond me.

7:11 AM  
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