The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which will be dedicated on Thursday, will invite visitors to think about what decisions they would have made themselves in the president’s shoes. As the New York Times reported:
Visitors to an interactive theater will be presented with the stark choices that confronted the nation’s 43rd president: invade Iraq or leave Saddam Hussein in power? Deploy federal troops after Hurricane Katrina or rely on local forces? Bail out Wall Street or let the banks fail?
The hypothetical exercise, which includes touch screens that let users watch videos of “advisers” before voting on whether they would make the same choices that Mr. Bush did, revisits the most consequential moments of his administration. In the process, the country is being asked to re-evaluate the two-term president who presided over some of the most tumultuous years in the nation’s history.
That doesn’t mean the museum exhibits are any sort of apology to Bush’s critics. If you were building a $250 million monument to yourself, you’d probably defend your point of view too:
No president produces a museum known for self-flagellation, and Mr. Bush’s is no exception. It does not ignore controversies like the weapons of mass destruction that were never found in Iraq, but it does not dwell on them either. In the Iraq display it says flatly, “No stockpiles of W.M.D. were found.” But then it adds, “Post-invasion inspections confirmed that Saddam Hussein had the capacity to resume production of W.M.D.”
A six-minute introductory video narrated by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledges disputes over Iraq and interrogation techniques while defending them as efforts to protect the country. “If you were in a position of authority on Sept. 11,” she says, “every day after was Sept. 12.”
Bonus points to the Times for correctly, and precisely, datelining their article from University Park, Texas.