Thursday, December 21, 2006

Leaving nothing to chance

The following is from a New York Daily News article (via Think Progress) in late November:

Eager to begin refurbishing his tattered legacy, the President hopes to raise $500 million to build his library and a think tank at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Bush lived in Dallas until he was elected governor of Texas in 1995.

Bush sources with direct knowledge of library plans told the Daily News that SMU and Bush fund-raisers hope to get half of the half billion from what they call "megadonations" of $10 million to $20 million a pop.

Bush loyalists have already identified wealthy heiresses, Arab nations and captains of industry as potential "mega" donors and are pressing for a formal site announcement - now expected early in the new year.

"You can't ask people in Dallas for $20 million until they can be sure the library won't be in Waco," one Bush source noted.

The rest of the cash will come from donors willing to pony up $25,000 to $5 million.

"It's a stretch," said another source briefed on the plans. "It's so much bigger than anything that's been tried before. But the more you have, the more influence [on history] you can exert."

The half-billion target is double what Bush raised for his 2004 reelection and dwarfs the funding of other presidential libraries. But Bush partisans are determined to have a massive pile of endowment cash to spread the gospel of a presidency that for now gets poor marks from many scholars and a majority of Americans.

The legacy-polishing centerpiece is an institute, which several Bush insiders called the Institute for Democracy. Patterned after Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Bush's institute will hire conservative scholars and "give them money to write papers and books favorable to the President's policies," one Bush insider said.
Then this appeared on Think Progress about two weeks later:

"I'll be dead when they get it right." – President Bush, on how his legacy will be viewed, according to a "recent visitor" to the White House who says Bush is "still resolutely defiant, convinced history will ultimately vindicate him."
Yeah, especially when you stack the deck.

But, of course, the library isn't the entire country. And no matter how much money is invested into this one cluster of buildings, it will end up as a sort of pitiful shrine for the Dubya faithful to take their children on a pilgrimage. "You see, son? He was actually a great man! And it was actually Democrats that got all those soldiers killed and created Civil War in Iraq!"

It's all so very sad. And is it any wonder that the staff of Southern Methodist University have already made their feelings known that they do not wish to be host to this monument to delusion?

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