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Presidential Libraries



     Timothy Walch, director of the Hoover Presidential Library-Museum in West Branch, Iowa, writes:
     Wonderful discussion of the issue of presidential libraries. The relationship between presidential libraries and universities is troubled. Most universities want to have the research center but not the museum. University administrators are also troubled by the traffic and the egos and the partisanship that comes with a former president and his entourage. Duke University flirted with Richard Nixon; Harvard with JFK and Stanford with Hoover and Reagan. None were consummated. Ford convinced the government to split the functions. The museum is in downtown Grand Rapids; the library is on the campus at the University of Michigan. Carter worked out a deal with Emory by keeping the Library-Museum off campus. LBJ had lots of clout and got the University of Texas to do his bidding. Once the Longhorns had a presidential library, the Aggies had to have one. Texas A&M moved heaven and lots of earth to give George Bush what he wanted.
     Since private money is used to build and partly maintain these libraries, it is unlikely that they will be built where the presidents wants them. Congress - especially the Senate - hates the presidential libraries and would never pay to construct a central facility. That's the real world.


     My comment: Again, it's mostly politics. As for the Stanford faculty who protested so loudly against the proposed establishment of the Reagan complex at Stanford, which led its promoter Hoover Director Glenn Campbell to withdraw the proposal, what would have been their reaction had a Democratic President been involved?
     The job of being head of state seems distasteful to me. I watch Spanish TV every day, and poor King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia are always kissing other leaders on both cheeks, the latest being the young King of Jordan. Protocol calls for it, especially in Latin countries. President Hoover toured Latin America and receiving many kissing peers, but I can't imagine he would be very good at it.
     I am happy to live in sanitary obscurity.

Ronald Hilton - 10/22/99


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