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Now, This Week’s Poll!
So you think being president of the United States is easy? All those pesky press conferences and state dinners? Correctly pronouncing Kim Jong Il and those big words in “My Pet Goat”?
Well, at the brand-new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Texas, everybody’s favorite former president George W. Bush wants you to know he tried really, really hard. And he seems to be asking, would you, Average American, have done any better?
Here’s your chance to find out! The brick-and-limestone museum offers visitors an interactive opportunity to play the role of the Decider, using touch screens (made in China?) to choose: Invade Iraq or no? Let the banks fail or bail ’em out? Deploy federal troops to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans or just airlift in a few teacups and let ’em fix things locally?
“It’s unfair for us to assume that an exhibit depicting a president’s administration will be objective when the president is alive,” said Mark K. Updegrove, the director of the LBJ Library, also in Texas. True — but we can’t help feeling like this whole museum is, well, more than a little defensive on Bush’s part.
As the New York Times points out, the 14,000 square feet museum takes pains to juxtapose the presidency Bush wanted to have (tax cuts, education reform, faith-based social services) with the dumb-luck presidency he ended up having (9/11, Katrina, financial meltdown). The exhibits tango around things like, say, the ill-conceived invasion of Iraq, offering guests the vague caveat that, while no W.M.D. were found, “Post-invasion inspections confirmed that Saddam Hussein had the capacity to resume production of W.M.D.”
Condi Rice shows up, hopefully on skates, to defend waterboarding and other interrogation techniques with a claim that, after the World Trade Center attacks, “every day after was Sept. 12.” See how hard it is to be president?
The whole exercise seems to embrace the idiotic idea that, in America, not only can anyone grow up to be president, but, really, just about anyone is qualified. The sneering “So you think you coulda done better?” tone suggests that the president of the richest and most powerful country in the world doesn’t particularly need better deciding skills than anyone else the voters might want to have a beer with. But we think it’s irrelevant that some of the choices a president faces would stymie an average person. The president isn’t supposed to be average.
“The challenge when you’re a former president,” said Bush in a recent interview in Parade Magazine, “is how do you use your God-given talents?” Of all the challenges Bush has faced in his lifetime, really, this one should be a no-brainer.
BUT, if he wants his library to be interactive, let’s all participate. If, according to Bush, any old dope can make decisions just as good as anyone else, let’s jump in and help him design his library! Tell us: What would YOU like to see in the new George W. Bush Library?
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