The Bush Library 3: Rove in Charge, SMU Flushing Its Rep?


Via Benjamin Johnson at the Bush Library Blog comes the news that intellectual and ethically-challenged democracy bete-noir Karl Rove has been spending a bunch of his precious time dealing not with Gonzo or the DoJ Scandal or the Emperor’s abysmal poll numbers or the Republicans’ self-immolation or the Iraq mess but with the much-ballyhooed Bush Library.

Last weekend while at the ever-scintillating meeting of the Organization of American Historians I ran into a few friends in administrative positions at research libraries. The Bush people, they told me, have been scoping out research facilities, taking a look at how institutions try to set themselves up to house both archival records open to a wide range of researchers and provide a productive working environment for fellows. The person leading this effort was nobody other than Karl Rove, the President’s chief political strategist, and — whether you like him or not — undeniably one of the great political geniuses of American history. Rove is personally going around to these libraries, meeting with their directors and checking out their facilities. According to one colleague, he seems to know exactly what the square footage of the building will be and where it will be located on campus.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The picture conjured up of one of the nastiest, most unscrupulous political dirtbags since Lee Atwater running what is supposed to be a public institution for historical research is enough to make you either gag or dissolve into giggles.

I mean, Karl Rove? In charge of a presidential library? Good grief. This is the guy who made his bones inventing the dirtiest political dirty tricks in US history, the guy behind the worst smears ever conceived. Clinton’s illegitimate black baby, the murder of Vince Foster, the Swift Boat Liars, Max Cleland’s phony combat medal – all Karl’s and I could go on for pages. He’s responsible for politicizing the White House and the DoJ to the point of crossing all lines of legality, he’s as secretive as Dick Cheney, and worst of all for the position he’s apparently going to take, he’s behind all the Bush Admin’s attempts to re-write history so as to make Bush look less like the moron he is, re-write science so it mirrors Bush’s religious beliefs/corporate pandering, and re-write statistics to prove Bush was right when he was dead wrong.

It’s a bad sign. Johnson puts it in a nice concise nutshell.

The idea that somebody as high-up in the Bush administration as he is would actually do this took me by surprise. It suggests that Bush, Rove, and company really do see their complex as a top priority. Upon further reflection, though, this is consistent with the administration’s explicit invocations of its place in history — Bush, like Harry Truman, may be unpopular, his spokesmen tell us, but his heroic struggle against terrorism will be vindicated by history. It’s also consistent with the clear effort to conceal the most damaging information about the administration, whether by using private email accounts for conducting business that should be covered by the Presidential Records Act, or by ensuring through Executive Order 13233 that George W. Bush and his heirs will be able to deny access to pretty much any records that they want.

(emphasis added)

If Rove runs the Library like he runs the WH, researchers will have to sign loyalty pledges, promise to let him censor whatever they write, and prove they are good little neocon Bush Babies before they’re allowed in the door. At that point, SMU’s credibility is in the dumper.

As far as I’m concerned, Rove’s direct involvement at a time like this proves that every concern, every fear, every reservation expressed by critics and the opposition about the library is right on and possibly understated. If Rove is going to be the Director, the only people who will have access will be fellows of conservative think tanks who can be trusted to conclude that everything Bush ever did was brilliant, courageous, and bold. Torture will be defended, lies will be denied, and history will be turned on its head.

No reputable university should have such a facility on its campus. It would be like letting Joseph Goebbels run your Jewish Studies Program.

The SMU administration should make it perfectly clear that if Rove is involved all bets – and deals – are off.

On the other hand, Johnson notes that SMU is about to host an intelligent design symposium. From the Dallas Morning News last Thursday, an op-ed piece by John Wise, Ronald Wetherington and Robert Gregory of the SMU science faculty protests the event.

Some scientists at Southern Methodist University have been labeled “intolerant, close-minded and bigoted” because we have spoken out against the misrepresentation of religious belief as science in our protests of the upcoming intelligent design event scheduled at SMU.

The organization behind the event, the Discovery Institute, is clear in its agenda: It states that what the SMU science faculty believes to be so useful (science) is a danger to conservative Christianity and should be replaced by its mystical world view.

We do not argue against the basic right to believe, worship and express oneself as one desires.

We are, however, vehemently opposed to the deliberate deception of presenting politically motivated religious viewpoints as science. It is destructive and antithetical to the usefulness of science, and history has shown that similar politicizations of science have been incredibly destructive to our moral, ethical and material progress.

We have a duty as practitioners of science to speak out against such deceptions, and we have done so.

If SMU is going to sponsor crap like “intelligent design” at what used to be a mainstream Methodist university, then I suppose Rove and his crackpots will fit right in. SMU won’t need to worry about its credibility any more because it won’t have any left.

(Johnson adds at the bottom of another post that a final decision on the library has been put off yet again and suspects that the Bush Team may be exploring other options, like maybe Baylor.)

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2 responses to “The Bush Library 3: Rove in Charge, SMU Flushing Its Rep?

  1. FYI, Rove wouldn’t be head of the Library — that person is appointed by the Archivist of the U.S., and would have to have professional credentials, but rather of the Bush Institute, the policy “think tank” that will accompany the Bush library and museum.

    Benjamin Johnson

  2. No offense, Ben, but Bush and his whole crew have been ignoring the Constitution, breaking laws, and defying traditional safeguards for 6 years without turning a hair. What makes you think a little thing like that would stop them? A presidential edict ordering the Archivist (good, loyal Bushie by any chance?) to appoint Rove is all it would take. “By Order of the President” carries a lot of weight, and the Archivist wouldn’t have much choice.

    You gotta stop thinking these are normal, law-abiding politicians. They’re not. They make their own rules up as they go along, and Rove is one of the few people Junior would trust to protect his “legacy” because Rove has no conscience, only loyalty to the prez. No way anybody from outside the Magic Bubble/Circle is going to get control of those papers. The best we can hope for is that someone less…vicious and single-minded gets the job. Gonzales, for instance. He’ll need something to do after he resigns.

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