Thursday, April 30, 2009

Presidential Libraries

Now that President Obama has achieved his One Hundredth Day and had his "Hallmark Holiday"--or was it his "Kodak Klap on the Back"? Or his "Kutsie Klap on the Barack"? I could go on if you don't stop me.

Seriously now, readers, the following was originally written as a letter to the editor at the Washington Post but was not picked up by them, so instead you have the chance to read my words of wisdom on the vexing topic of Presidential Libraries. Get ready.

Back on December 5, in that unearthly twilight zone between Barack Obama's November 4 election night victory, George W. and Laura Bush packing their stuff up and vacating the White House, and Obama's historic inauguration back on January 20, the Post ran an editorial entitled "President Got-a-Buck? Bill Clinton's secret fundraising for his presidential library was wrong--and so is George W. Bush's."

So (big intake of breath). . . let us ask the hard question, "Why should every single new U.S. President get a Presidential Library?"

President George W. Bush was our 43rd President and Obama is our 44th President. All presidents in the modern era have had a library built in their name, beginning with the 31st President, Herbert Hoover (per the National Archives website on such libraries; hit the title above to go there. . .). But imagine if a new library was to be built for the next 44 United States presidents? Isn't this getting a bit absurd? Each time a new presidential library is built it exponentially increases the number of staff needed, not to mention equipment and other requirements, at today's spiralling costs.

True the building of yet another such library creates jobs but surely the money for building and staffing the library could be put to better use if in future the papers of presidents were to be consolidated in one location. Doesn't that sound a more reasonable solution? So in these straitened financial times, will President Obama be public spirited and be the first modern era president to found a generic United States Presidential Library that will henceforth hold his papers and the papers of all succeeding presidents?

How about if former President George W. Bush, instead of founding his own library, agree to share the library of his father, past President George Herbert Walker Bush, our 41st president, in College Station, Texas? Actually, in those circumstances, the library could remain the "George Bush Presidential Library and Museum", could it not? Or would Hillary Rodham Clinton, if she should become president, agree to share a library with her husband? Something to think about.

In this perilous world economy when we citizens of the United States and people worldwide have to tighten their belts, how about if U.S. Presidents were to be reasonable about the need to build future presidential libraries each in their name? And one other thing, concerning the mere matter of bucks, to get back to the theme of the Post editorial, "President Got-a-Buck?", couldn't the donors who are donating to build yet another presidential library put their funds to much better use giving it to humanitarian charities or other worthy causes.

Dad Never Read Novels

He was more of a Newsweek-
Huntley-Brinkley-Cronkite man,
but before he died when ill he read
steamy big gamehunter type novels,
on the scent of rhino and cougar.

Dad would rage about the plots
just like he'd rage at the news and
the folk who "climb on the taxpayer's
back." I found a couple of saucy
paperbacks hidden in his closet,
checked the well-thumbed bits.

He read my would-be novel,
offered persnickety edits,
always missed the big picture,
complained that I was being mildly
porno (tho' it was more pun-
ography). He had begun in the UK as

an English socialist, grousing
about Harold Macmillan and
people who "never had it so good."
Argued about America's need for
socialized medicine. But latterly

he'd developed a passion for
talk radio. I feel certain
he'd long forgotten Labour.
I have the notion that today
he'd love Rush Limbaugh.

Christopher T. George

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