Laying It On With A Trowel
Our glorious tradition of Presidential Libraries was of course launched by Franklin Roosevelt, who famously parked the first one in his yard, and had himself buried there to complete the pharaoh-fication.
The special localness of these little bits o’ greatness scattered over the landscape are celebrated by America’s leading purveyor of thoughtful presidential historian mush, David McCullough:
” it is valuable for anyone trying to understand the life of a particular president should come to the place that produced that human being, where his memory is part of the story of that place.“
Stirring words, except Reagan’s location is an accident of real estate after Stanford, where he had no ties, turned him down. Nixon crawled back to Yorba Linda after numerous rejections elsewhere, and Bush Sr is in College Station for ideological congruity, not any local ties.
The great tradition is coming to its logical end at the FDR Library, where the seventy-five year old structure’s roof leaks, the wiring is shot, and damp threatens the Roosevelt papers. A $17 million fix is requested.
Just why this collection of randomly sited mini-archives must be maintained and expanded into perpetuity even as they are pilfered from within is unclear.
The Hard Shell
The New Yorker reports the latest on the effort to flog Laura “The Nice One” Bush’s tell-some memoirs, which has involved a series of publishing greats trekking to the White House to meet the Fightin’ Librarian before they sign up.
One publisher says it isn’t going well.
“I considered it the worst, or the most frustrating, meeting of its sort that I’ve ever had…But she really couldn’t have been nicer.”
And the hoped for softer side of Team Bush?
“You got the sense she’s just like him.”
Others share the gloom:
“everyone was totally underwhelmed by her”
And as in so many Laura updates, novelist and biographer-in-all-but-name Curtis Sittenfeld [American Wife]
goes for the kill:
“Sometimes when people share their thoughts it’s sort of disappointing.”
Tell Me A Story
Pearls Without Price
While the Bush Legacy Project floats fanciful interpretations of the Administrations history as the days draw nigh, in Dallas they are dropping some of the masks.
Recall all that Dallas economic development the George W. Bush Library was to “spark” [when it wasn’t erasing the immortal stain of the Kennedy assassination] in its gritty, big city Dallas locale?
Well, you ain’t gonna see it.
Just in time for the legacy edifice, Dallas has launched a Tax Increment Financing [TIF] district to suck up any money development around the Bush Library might generate for local taxing bodies.
Mr. President has bored you before with this, but pay attention.
TIFs are magic governments. They take a stretch of land, and proclaim that the value of all future development doesn’t get taxed for schools, sewers or police. The money flows instead to the TIF, which spend it on local amenities, which increases the value of the development, but that’s not going to pay taxes either.
The Bush Library will anchor the North end of a “string of urban pearls” along mass transit.
Feel The Future
The Dallas Business Journal thoughtfully explains how You will benefit, somehow, someday:
“Cities use TIFs to stimulate development by allowing developers in specific areas to reinvest new property tax dollars spurred by the TIF to fund infrastructure improvements in the zone, instead of having the additional dollars go into the city’s general fund. When the TIF lapses, the city benefits from a more valuable tax base.“
As Sage of Prescott Hollow George W. President Bush frequently reminds us, by then we’ll be dead.
All this urban glamour will unfold in an area blighted as “an older, industrial area, circa 1950s,” and in thirty years they can do it all over again.
The hour approaches, when George W. Bush turns into a pumpkin and all his presidential papers are supposed to be whisked to the National Archives.
The New York Times reports much whistling past the graveyard by Archives.
Despite a Bush record of non-cooperation with the Archives, fifty times the Clinton Administration’s electronic document volume, and a breezy Bush slovenliness about preserving email, the Archives told the Times it has “a high level of confidence” it can swallow the beast and cough up the results for future inquiries.
Veteran document troller and national treasure Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive says the National Archives is delusional.
“Their confidence is inexplicable”
The Washington Post reported earlier that whatever is to unfold has already started:
“The ingestion of Bush data has just begun,” said Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper, adding that she is unsure how smoothly it has gone.
Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot…