December 28, 2008
George W Bush’s $300m library in danger of becoming white elephant
His critics see it as a monument to a failed presidency that may not even hold all his key documents
by Sarah Baxter
Bush has bought a $3m (£2.05m) house in a Republican enclave 10 minutes away from his proposed library and hopes to play an active role in the policy institute that will be established there. With his approval ratings at a record low of 20%, according to a CBS poll, he is keenly interested in shaping the verdict of history.
“I’d like to be . . . known as somebody who liberated 50m people and helped achieve peace,” Bush said in a recent interview. Laura Bush said last week that she saw the policy institute as a “great vehicle” for continuing her support for women’s rights in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Work on the $300m library will begin in January, overseen by the architect Robert Stern, dean of the Yale school of architecture. The identity of donors has been kept secret from Bush, who established a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about their names after The Sunday Times revealed in July that a top Republican donor was touting access to senior administration officials in return for donations of up to $250,000.