Bush Presidential Center website seems decidedly partisan and unscholarly

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When Southern Methodist University decided to go ahead with plans to become the site not only of President George W. Bush’s presidential library, but also an affiliated policy center, some historians feared a distortion of the historical record. The Dallas Morning News reported that a recent addition to the Bush Presidential Center’s Web site isn’t doing anything to reassure scholars about even-handedness. To understand the “legacy” of the Bush administration, the center links to the Web site not of historians, but of the Bush-Cheney Alumni Association, where “Recent Bush Record Documents” features three choices: “The Bush Record: Praise for President’s Accomplishments,” “The Bush Record: More Praise for President’s Accomplishments,” and “The Bush Record: Praise Continues for President’s Accomplishments.”

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Maarja Krusten - 2/3/2009

As a former National Archives' employee, I've long been one to argue about the need to make clear distinctions between NARA, whose mission requires an objective, nonpartisan approach, and private sector entities, such as Presidential Foundations. The Bush Presidential Center is a private sector entity, which is not part of the National Archives. It is the National Archives, of course, administers the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The Bush Center does not fall under NARA control.

Is it really so surprising that a site devoted to White House alumni takes such an approach? Aren't most alumni sites geared towards boosterism? As a hypothetical, a site for retired players of the NFL Washington Redskins is unlikely to devote itself to essays emphasizing the positive about the rival Dallas Cowboys. Given the rah rah "yay, us" nature of informal alumni groups, I'm not terribly surprised that a private sector group associated with a Republican President (or a Democratic one, come to think of it), takes the approach it does. Nor do I find it particularly noteworthy.