It's the G.W. Bush Liberry
His malaprops will be chiseled in marble walls
- Jaime O'Neill
Sunday, August 8, 2004
In anticipation of the day when George W. Bush is no longer
in office, it is perhaps appropriate to give some thought to the prospect of a George W. Bush Presidential Library. The concept
may seem oxymoronic to some. After all, how do we go about building a library for a man who appears so proud of his alienation
from printed matter? He boasts of not reading newspapers, and there is little to be found in any of his public statements
to suggest a familiarity with any book whatsoever. The thought of our current president reading, say, Shakespeare, defies
imagining. It is difficult to think of him reading Danielle Steele, or John Grisham, let alone the Bard of Avon.
But if the Bush presidency has been about anything, it's been about breaking
free of the fetters of the traditional past. It was the Bush presidency, after all, that did away with the fussy old notion
about the U.S. not engaging in unilateral acts of first-strike aggression against sovereign nations. It was George Bush, after
all, who redefined a "conservative" as someone who believed in enormous deficits. And it was the Bush administration that
accelerated the separation of language from action by constantly saying one thing while meaning another; i.e. "Clear Skies"
initiatives, and "No Child Left Behind."
Given all that, it may turn out that the George W. Bush Presidential Library
(or, perhaps, "Liberry") will be equally surprising in the ways it breaks with tradition, and with meaning.
But one tradition that probably won't be broken is the time-honored practice
of commemorating presidential bon mots by chiseling them in marble. Immortal ideas expressed in the president's own immortal
Consider what might be chiseled in stone over the door to the education wing
of the Bush Liberry, for instance. "Is Our Children Learning?" would make a most fitting presidential quote emblazoned above
the portal to the Bush Hall of Lurning, a monument to the Bush administration's heroic struggle to "leave no child behind."
Or, if a more timeless quality is required for future visitors to the Bush Liberry, the president's observation from Jan.
23, 2004, might suffice: "The illiteracy level of our children are appalling."
The wing of the Bush Liberry dedicated to the administration's contributions
to the space program could be entered by passing under the motto: "Astronauts ... courageous spacial entrepreneurs."
Heading west from the Space Wing of the Bush Liberry, visitors may find themselves
approaching the Compassion Wing. What words would better express the President's compassionate nature than these?: "There's
only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids upon the death of their loved one. Others hug
but having committed the troops, I've got an additional responsibility to hug and that's me and I know what it's like."
Beyond compassion, history will want to record the visionary and far- sighted
energy policy the administration promoted. Over the entry-way to the Energy Wing of the Liberry, we might find the following
Bush words: "We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."
In the wing devoted to Bush's bold statesmanship, the visitor may well find
these words, spoken about Saddam Hussein in the run-up to the war with Iraq: " ... you disarm, or we will."
Over the archway to the Hall of Labor, we may find these Bush words: "We want
anybody who can find work to be able to find work." A fitting commemoration of the administration's tireless efforts on behalf
of America's work force.
In the wing of the Liberry devoted to Bush, the partisan warrior, future visitors
might find the following timeless words, uttered in an attempt to fight back the nefarious work of the Democrats: "They want
the federal government controlling Social Security like it's some kind of federal program."
There is certain to be a wing of the Liberry devoted to George Bush, the dreamer.
That wing could be introduced with these words: " ... America -- a literate
country and a hopefuller country." Or, in that same vein, try to imagine these words set in stone: " My job is to, like, think
beyond the immediate." What could be more visionary?
At this point in time, the George W. Bush Presidential Liberry exists only
in the imagination, but it won't be long before such a place becomes a reality. Future visitors are, however, encouraged to
bring their own books.
Jaime O'Neill teaches English at Butte Community
College near Oroville.