George W. Bush, also known as "#43" (as in the 43rd POTUS), built his Presidential Library on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
|Three Mustangs, 11-foot-tall bronze statues on SMU campus|
Before going into the museum itself, we stopped for a bite to eat in the on-site restaurant appropriately named "Cafe 43." It looked like a happenin' place where locals come to dine. I enjoyed the contemporary paintings by local artists
|Sculpture with Birds by SMU art professor Mary Vernon|
|Cheddar cheese rolls (exceptional) and flatbread|
|Poblano chicken chili with avocado|
|A purple and golden beet salad with mache greens, |
blue cheese, and biquinho peppers (also exceptional)
|"Mrs. Bush's Favorite Sandwich": tomato, avocado, and mozzarella|
Everything I didn't like about the Clinton Presidential Library is corrected in the Bush Library.
It is patriotic. Several times I wanted to burst out singing "The Star Spangled Banner."
It is emotional, particularly in the depiction of the events surrounding 9/11:
|Bush getting the news about the first plane hitting the |
World Trade Center. He was visiting a class of second graders
at Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida.
|Twisted pieces of steel from the Twin Towers|
|Footage from the days following 9/11.|
The museum does not, of course, highlight any of the debacles of the Bush years, but just as we had to accept that at the Clinton Library and the other libraries we had visited, we also had to accept it here. A presidential library is one of the ways a past-president can shape a lasting image of himself, to focus on what he (or someday she) would like to be remembered for.
Like other presidential libraries, this one also has a mock-up of the Bush Oval Office. While not as beautiful as the one we had seen in the Clinton Library a few days previous, at least we could go inside this one, and a photographer was available to take pictures of visitors sitting behind the presidential desk (for a fee, of course).
|I forgot to take a picture, so I borrowed one from here.|
Face it--we like glitz and glamour in the presidency. We want the world to know we can hold our own with the kings and queens around the world. There was some of that on display.
There are the usual displays of treasures from around the world that were given to President Bush (and hence, to the people of the United States) during his presidency. As far as gifts from foreign dignitaries go, this stuffed lion has to be one of the best:lions in Tanzania six months prior to our visit to the Bush Library, this display really drew my attention.)
Laura and George W. with His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet:
Visuals like this one, mapping the areas of HIV concentration, are very compelling:
In my opinion, the very best thing about George W. is Laura. He hit the jackpot with her. There is a significant amount of space donated to her life and activities:
One of my favorite parts of the museum was a movie that was being projected on a band of the wall just below the ceiling in a large room at the end of the tour. The music was beautiful and the images were so inspiring that I recorded two short segments. It is a great way to end a visit to a presidential library.
READINGI've mentioned this book in a previous post, but it seems even more relevant here after having watched the YouTube videos of the dedication of the George W. Bush Library. In The Presidents Club, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy discuss how friendships overcome party politics as the sitting president and the past presidents work together to achieve common goals. Surprisingly, there are a LOT of common goals, as can been seen in the videos posted above.
These men may appear to be enemies during campaigns, but once they have served as the President of the United States, they share a common experience that no one else on earth can really understand. They need and rely on each other in some very interesting ways.