Columns » Hightower

A library for Bush groupies


"Think tank' is not a concept you would associate with George W and sure enough, there won't be much thinking done in the Bush library and think tank to be built at Southern Methodist University.

The Bushites have cut a deal with SMU executives to locate his presidential library on the private campus in one of Dallas' wealthiest neighborhoods. They've targeted some Arab oil kingdoms, corporate chieftains and wealthy heiresses to be the "megadonors" they need to raise $500 million to establish George's ex-presidential palace.

This one is to be markedly different from the usual complexes that other presidents have built. First (and unsurprisingly), rather than placing the full archive of his administration's papers so historians and others have access, Bush is to have a heavily censored, anti-academic library. None other than Karl Rove will help with the censoring, making sure historians only peruse documents that cast the Bush-Cheney regime in a glowing light.

Second, the policy institutes at other presidential libraries are scholarly units of their host universities. The work done in them is judged by normal academic standards, deans are chosen by university presidents, etc. George W's think tank, however, is to be academically unattached to SMU and will unabashedly push a partisan, ideological agenda. It will hire conservative acolytes and, as an insider told the New York Daily News, "give them money to write papers and books favorable to the president's policies."

Stretching for money and celebrity, SMU trustees are not getting a reputable library, but another of Bush's self-serving frauds. As one SMU professor put it, "The whole purpose of a library is for critically reflective academic inquiry ... It's not to be groupies."

Jim Hightower will appear at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 1, at Colorado College's Palmer Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

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