Ground was broken today for the George W. Bush Presidential Library that will grace Southern Methodist University, opening in 2013. People seemed to be in a good humor as the work began, except for publicity seeking protesters who don't want the library on their campus. George and Laura were there, so were Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and former President Uribe of Colombia (testifying to Bush's role in helping defeat the Marxist rebels in his country).
Writes the Wall Street Journal for Wednesday's edition, "Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who used a cane to climb to the dais, made a dig at the Obama administration, calling the presidential center 'the only shovel-ready project in America,' drawing laughs."
The $137 million building is going to a great adornment to the SMU campus and community. As Cheney might have noted, it also will provide real stimulus to the economy in the building stage and thereafter.
In the 80s, Stanford had the opportunity to have the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, but turned it down in a fit of faculty indignation that time has exposed fully as foolish leftwing pride. Reagan looks better and better as years go by and Stanford looks stupider and stupider for rejecting the library. Back then, the faculty asserted that Reagan's foreign policy risked war with the Soviet Union (remember it?). And Reagan's economic policies were ruinous; this, as an historic economic boom was unfolding, especially around Stanford.
On the other hand, if the Reagan Library had been built in Palo Alto there indeed would have been traffic, as some worried. Concerns about cars, after all, are taken more seriously on campuses than even ideology. Parking spots are often a campus's last remaining religious icons.
No practical bothers like parking were involved a decade earlier in the decision of Whittier College, also in California, not to house the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library. Again, that may have seemed to make political sense in the agitated days after Watergate, but little Whittier--where Nixon had been a student--became even littler as a result. Nearby Yorba Linda now gets all the tourists.
Moral: if someone wants to put a presidential library at your school, say thank you.