A ‘New’ Bush Makes His Debut at SMU

These days you seem to hear one of two things about George W. Bush’s new policy institute and presidential library, museum and foundation on the SMU campus. It’s either going to jam traffic so badly the area will resemble an L.A. freeway at rush hour–or nobody will come to the thing and, besides, the library will just have a couple of coloring books in it, anyway. This afternoon we got a decidedly different view from W and his wife Laura, who showed up at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium to outline plans for the public policy part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Institute.

The Bushes took turns speaking at a single lectern on a very presidential-looking stage, with a backdrop including an American flag and these words in giant letters: Freedom. Opportunity. Responsibility. Compassion. W said his new institute would focus on four areas–education, health, human freedom, and economic growth–and added that he’s hiring some top people to do some groundbreaking work in those fields. The new hires include Sandy Kress, a former local chairman of the Democratic Party, and Mark Dybul, an openly gay man who served as the former president’s global AIDS coordinator.

Laura’s portion of the presentation, meantime, stressed that a “women’s initiative” would be a big part of the institute, with a major conference for Afghan women on the schedule for next March. That focus on women’s issues seemed smart–as did most elements of the Bushes’ plan for the presidential center, a $300 million project that will even be green: LEED Platinum-certified. Thus a “new” W was revealed at SMU today: serious, inclusive, bipartisan, a lofty thinker–much different from the beaten-down prez whose party lost everything last fall. And, the 1,500 or so people in the McFarlin audience seemed to like it. They gave the Bushes four standing O’s.


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  • Tom

    That’s not really a “new” W. It’s the “old” one that was governor of Texas. Too bad the one in the middle was damaged so badly by Rove, Rummy and Cheney.

  • Jackson

    Glenn writes, “Thus a ‘new’ W was revealed at SMU today: serious, inclusive, bipartisan, a lofty thinker—much different from the beaten-down prez whose party lost everything last fall.”

    No, it isn’t a new W, and it certainly isn’t an “old” W. It’s a never-was-nor-will-be W.

    The W who was Governor was constrained as the weakest constitutional chief executive of all 50 states. He also had a Democratic House, and a Senate led by the powerful Democrat Bob Bullock. So let’s dispense with the urban myth about W as some sort of wise and jolly good gov. He played the hand he was dealt, and he bided his time.

    When he finally got the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we got the real deal, the prodigal son — in all that term represents. After eight years, it wasn’t that pretty at all.

  • Bill

    Traffic was not an issue today. Most of the crowd consisted of non-SMU folks. One could easily find a parking spot to eat at Goff’s if they wanted. Everything was very, very organized. Remote shuttles to Mockingbird Station were hassle free too. I think future traffic concerns are largely overblown if the library and institute plan on crowds that size. Frankly, if you drove down Hillcrest today, you would not know that anything was going on.

    I attended and was really impressed with the plans. It will really elevate Dallas to a new level on the world stage. Some of the speeches, debates and seminars at the institute will really be historical. Just watch. I have been to a number of the talks given by foreign PMs, SCOTUS judges etc. There was always a dimension missing where the event could have been so much more. This institute will fill the gap.

  • Wm. B. Travis

    “Even be green”? Lazy! Tell this crowd as to how efficient and sustainable Crawford is juxtaposed to the AlGore McMansion.

    ” . . . a new level on the world stage”? BEWARE of anyone appealing to that “world-class city” rubbish! This is Dallas—be proud! The architecture is a total Lego-Block disaster. It’s an architects inside-joke, G.W.! Fire Bob Stern before it’s too late!

  • Dubious Brother

    President Bush took office in the middle of a world wide recession and nine months later the USA was sneak attacked by insane Muslim terrorists. Not once did he “blame” the previous administration for the mess that he inherited. We came out of the recession and prospered despite the economic impact of the terror attack.
    The press attacked President Bush unfairly and mercilessly for most of his two administrations. Even today, the press has said nothing about the Bushes going to Ft. Hood last weekend to console the families of the soldiers that were killed by yet another Muslim terrorist. The Bushes didn’t do it for the photo opportunity – they did it because they are good people and probably because they knew that no one from the current administration would even though they should have.
    The Bushes will continue to represent our country honorably and effectively in all of their endeavors and SMU and Dallas are very fortunate to have the Library and Institute here.

  • “They gave the Bushes four standing O’s.”

    As safe bet few if any in the room had any family (just like the Bush’s) deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. The only bigge joke than W, are the people who think this failure deserves praise, but that’s reality’s liberal bias and their willful ignorance.

    Why didn’t W promote these goals when he was President?

    Woman’s Rights? Why did he at the UN join Iran and Saudi Arabia in blocking equal rights for women? His DOJ abandon enforcement of equal pay laws; tried to weaken Title Nine; denied thousand of woman health care because they might learn about condoms. He rewarded the Saudis for their treatment of women (public beheading for adultery) with a kiss.

    Freedom? Why did he implement torture as National policy and then cowardly blame our troops for following his orders. Spreading freedom through torture, secret prisons, and violation of US and International law.

    Eduction? W was the first GOP President in 100 years to not believe in evolution. He appointed numerous religious fundamentalist that attempted to block, over rule, and censor scientific research.

    Economics? His record speaks for it’s self, a trillion dollar war put on debt and borrowing billions from the Treasury to pay give millionaires at tax cut. How did that work out?

    “Good people” don’t send others to die for lies, “honorable people” don’t order troop to torture.

    Patriots know the facts.

  • Becca

    @Dubious Brother – what makes you think the current administration took Ft. Hood as a photo opportunity? From what I heard the President and First Lady spent ample time (as well they should) with each victim and family from the tragedy and were very gracious.

    And while I have high respect Laura Bush, I can’t say the same for our former President.

  • Glenn Hunter

    @Grumpy Demo: I can’t speak for the other 1,500 there Thursday, but I for one have a nephew who’s willingly served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. So I guess you lose your bet. And, not that you probably care, but I suspect my nephew and many (if not most) of his fellow soldiers would consider your comments about “torture” and “secret prisons” ignorant and condescending, at the least.

  • Obama’s Seat

    @Glenn H

    My son served in Iraq, and greatly admires Bush.

    But then again, he’s one of those “live free or die”, “give me liberty or give me death” types.

    IOW, an extremist.

  • Jackson

    @Glenn Hunter, I’ve little doubt you’re correct about your own nephew. I’m sure he’d consider those opposed to torture and secret prisons “ignorant” and “condescending,” to use your words. Yet blessedly, the Hunter clan doesn’t speak for most Americans, or for the rule of law.

    Still, you should be a tad more circumspect when it comes to aiming such choice adjectives at your readership.

    From where I sit (and it isn’t up in the cheap seats with an obstructed view), I’d say Grumpy Demo’s points were fairly accurate, in spite of the shaky grammar.