Turning Presidents Into Pharaohs

University of Louisville Art History Professor Benjamin Hufbauer writes about the legacy of presidents as shaped by their presidential libraries in the latest issue of Politico Magazine.
Turning Presidents Into Pharaohs

The University of Illinois at Chicago’s proposal for President Barack Obama’s presidential library.

By Benjamin Hufbauer

Obama’s library will no doubt be the grandest temple of spin ever created. When will the falsifying of history stop?

It’s that time again. Two years after George W. Bush dedicated his $500-million Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, President Obama reportedly plans to announce, with considerable fanfare, the site of his own (likely even more expensive) library. Perhaps we should be asking ourselves: Why do all American presidents now get to create these colossal temples of spin dedicated to themselves that, although mostly built with privately-raised money, are largely run by the federal government? Presidential libraries are in some ways like Stephen Colbert’s old show—often surreal in their megalomaniacal self-promotion—but unlike the Colbert Report there’s no irony at these shrines. At the April 24, 2013 dedication of his library, George W. Bush declared that “this beautiful building has my name above the door, but it belongs to you.” Yet should we be grateful?

Read more at Politico.