Tomorrow morning, former President George W. Bush will dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Center, a facility that includes his presidential library and museum, the George W. Bush Policy Center, and the offices for the George W. Bush Foundation.
The complex is housed on 25 acres on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. It’s the second largest presidential library, surpassed only by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Four ex-presidents and current President Barack Obama will attend Thursday’s grand opening.
Some speculate the library is Bush’s attempt to soften his public perception. Paul West at the Los Angeles Times pointed out that Bush’s popularity ratings are lower than the ratings of former presidents when they opened their libraries. The challenge for Bush’s library, West said, will be to attract the American people to visit the $250 million complex.
Critics worry the display will show a slanted view of American history from 2001-2009. How will the museum portray Bush’s decision to ignite the war in Iraq and Afghanistan? How will it address his response to Katrina or his economic policies that worried many Americans?
According to Yahoo, visitors will have a chance to virtually view these historical events alongside the information President Bush was given and the questions he had to answer. They’ll have a chance to make a “decision” based on the same information and then hear the former president explain his actions.
“Bush wants people to know the kind of decisions he had to make in the course of his presidency and give [a rationale] for why he made those decisions,” Mark Updegrove said.
Upgrove, director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, is writing a book about George W. Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush. “There is great value in trying to understand why Bush did what he did,” he added. “You don’t have to agree with him, but there’s value in trying to understand his perspective.”