The Bush Presidential Library, Museum and Think Tank. Think Tank?

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I couldn’t resist adding my views of the newly ordained George W. Bush Presidential library and Museum to the thoughtful submission on the subject by my
colleague, Becky Sarwate.

When Sunday rolls around and I’ve suffered through yet another week of Republican Party mischief, I grab my newspaper’s Parade Magazine insert for the weekly helping of relaxing “candy for the mind.” Gracing the cover was a picture of former librarian and First Lady, Laura Bush, still looking fresh at 66 and her president emeritus husband George W. Bush, another 66-year-old. The centerpiece of the current edition of Parade would be the story of the George W. Bush Presidential and Museum with a sidebar praising Laura.

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Laura Lane Welch Bush remained a quiet, supportive spouse for the 8 years of the George W. Bush White House residency. As she was reportedly a borderline feminist, I would have liked to hear her take on more women’s issues, but she stood pretty much mum on the sidelines regarding these concerns as well as reproductive rights. At the same time, when it came to women’s issues, her husband’s policies either ignored or offended most thinking women.

Let’s review. We’ll start with the article describing Laura as the “beautiful, blue-eyed wife of 35 years.” A full-page black and white picture of Bush is on the opposing page. For 66, GW does look good. He exercises regularly, has a net worth in the 20-30 million dollar range, his wife builds a multimillion dollar home for him and he appears to be stress-free.

Hey, Bush may even live long enough for the historical exoneration of his two controversial terms. This man looked the American public in the eye and told them that Iraq was fraught with weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s). He insisted that the appropriate thing to do would be to draw our country into a war that would kill thousands of our young soldiers and well over 100,000 innocents at a cost that would hit $2 trillion and the financial payouts and human suffering would continue for many decades. He got us into Afghanistan as well. It seemed reasonable at the time, but a few years later, not so reasonable. So far the only Afghan accomplishments are corruption and the infamous designation as the world’s number one opium provider. He also managed to cement a generational hatred of the U.S. by Muslims, both in the Middle East and the U.S. (see Boston Marathon bombing.)

For his part, Bush remains unperturbed by his record mostly framed for him by far-right outsiders. But we still honor the man, as we have with a dozen other presidents with a brick and mortar shrine to his deeds as 43rd president. In addition to his foreign missteps, he domestically brought us two destructive tax cuts especially targeted at the rich and his top 1% investor pals. The right-wingers are absolutely on point when they talk about the massive redistribution of wealth. The Nation Magazine reports that corporate profits rose to their biggest share of the national income in 70 years while worker’s wages fell to their smallest share over the same period. So Republicans simply got the math wrong. The redistribution is all going one way from the poor and middle-class to a handful of corporations and millionaires and billionaires. We have Bush and his Cheneyesque mentors to thank for that.

Bush also encouraged the legislative watering down of climate legislation and the undermining the EPA’s authority to control carbon emissions. The health care industry absolutely loved Bush. That’s because everything the insurance, medical, hospital and pharmaceutical interests wanted, they got.

But I think what stands out the most during the Bush years is the period that bracketed the Housing bubble. I’ve written about the massive amount of criminal activities by investment houses, savings and loans institutions, banks, accounting firms, rating’s agencies and mortgage loan companies. I’d say about a third of those involved in sub-prime loans committed crimes. Many of the corporate lawbreakers filled in forms with bogus information about jobs and salaries in order to qualify the distinctly unqualified for loans.

Further questionable practices occurred in the process of Securitization that allowed mortgages to be packaged with other loans to form Collateralized Dept Obligations. The CDO’s were then sold to investors. The entire country was negatively impacted and still the Bush legacy will be a 226,000 square foot (an average Walmart is 97,000) combination Presidential Library and Museum and home to a think tank called the George W. Bush Institute. A total of $500 million was raised from private donors primarily for the Library and Museum construction.

It’s a handsome square-columned building located on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The online edition of the Dallas Morning News reports that about $45 million of the donor money goes to a joint programming endowment to SMU. As my colleague Becky pointed out, it houses an interactive theater of push-poll questions essentially excusing the Bush actions that the public finds most repugnant.

Those present at the dedication of this fancy edifice included ex-President’s Jimmy Carter, George H.W.Bush and Bill Clinton. Barack Obama was in attendance as well. It will be billed as a joyous occasion. And, maybe for the Democrats, the fact that we have presidential term limits, will indeed make it joyous.

As GW basks in his new House of Honor and watches his recent approval ratings increase substantially, he could be forgiven if he thinks that he inherited some of that teflon from the late 40th president.

The average American is still stuck!

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