Leaving is Fundamental


The Bush library architect is selected, but it’s not too late to suggest epigraphs for his and the building’s facades.

Artist’s rendition of the George W. Bush Presidential Libary (front view).

George W. Bush‘s grandest reinforced-concrete legacy — except for the billion-dollar U.S. Embassy in Baghdead being built by shanghaied Filipinos — finally has an architect.

No surprise that it’s a New York City firm hired to design Bush’s presidential library and museum. The name behind Robert A.M. Stern Architects is Yale’s architecture dean, and it’s a hoity-toity firm. Besides, Bush’s New York chum Roland Betts was on the selection committee.

As much as the POTUS library handlers are trying to burnish diffident reader Bush’s image for future generations, the president’s only certain legacy so far is the one he used to get into Yale because his daddy went there.

The George W. Bush Presidential Libary, however, will be a monument in 3-D, and it’s not too late to suggest that its name and a suitable epigraph from Bush’s own words be carved on its front facade. I’m thinking of Bush’s August 5, 2004, speech as he signed that year’s defense bill:

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

For that bone mot, go to this White House page for the transcript, video, and audio.

That quotation probably won’t pass muster with Bush’s crew. But it has to be something memorable and/or important, like this August 4, 1822, quotation by James Madison, which is inscribed on the Library of Congress building bearing his name and which was dedicated by Ronald Reagan:

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

In the alternative, here’s a modern-day quotation that seems apropos:

Who has the strength these days to remember the beginning, the root of the matter, the circumstances, the fact that what we have here is occupation and oppression, reaction and counter-reaction, a vicious circle and a bloody circle, two peoples that are becoming corrupt, violent and crazy with despair, a death trap in which we are suffocating more with every passing day?

No, that’s not about Iraq; it’s from a January 6, 2002, essay by Israeli novelist David Grossman, concerning the Arab-Jew death dance. Don’t expect to see that quote in either the Israel or Iraq wings of the Bush Libary, though historians will remember the disastrous road to death in Israel as one of Bush’s legacies.

You could pick just about anything from Martin Luther King Jr., but here’s a morsel from King’s 1967 anti-war speech at Riverside Church in New York City. Taken out of context, it’s also perfectly in context, in a Vietraq sort of way, as a description of Bush:

… some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war …

Maybe carving an epigraph like that into a building is just too old-fashioned for the computer age, and the Bush Libary simply needs something for people to click on.

All you have to do is click. It’s a Windows command, so it should work perfectly.