Upon exiting office, U.S. presidents open presidential libraries. It’s what they do. George W. Bush has one, Bill Clinton has one, as does the Bush before him, Ronald Reagan and just about every president since Hoover. Now it’s our most recent ex-president’s turn, but as usual with Barack Obama there’s some oddities and stealth surrounding the deal.
That Obama routinely used his pen and phone to subvert the U.S. Constitution, avoid the American people’s elected representatives and did an awful lot of clandestine governing is no secret to anyone who was paying attention. Deals like the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap and flying planeloads of cash to Iran in the middle of the night were all done in secret with no one really knowing what was happening until after the deals were done.
But the idea of a presidential library is to reveal to the public the inner-workings of a president’s time in office. That means placing things like memos, briefings and other documents on display for people to get a look at just how the president and his administration worked. Well if you routinely worked outside of constitutional or other legal boundaries – that could be an issue. So the new Barack Obama library will not actually have original, hard copies of any documents from his eight years in office.
His own library won’t have his own writings! The fascinating development was picked up on by Fox News:
“The Obama Foundation is taking an unconventional approach to the presidential center and library being planned in Chicago. It’s opting to host a digital archive of President Barack Obama’s records, but not keep his hard-copy manuscripts and letters and other documents onsite.
That means no thumbing through the ex-president’s correspondence on the health care fight or first drafts of his State of the Union addresses.
The decision has historians scratching their heads.
“All archivists are waiting to see how this will work, because we are all struggling with how to make things available digitally,” Peggy Glowacki, a manuscripts librarian at the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune.
The Tribune reported that while Obama’s physical records are currently in a private facility in Illinois, they will likely be shipped to locations in and around Washington, D.C. One upside for organizers to keeping documents out of the presidential center, according to the report, is that officials could skirt certain federal standards for construction.
But the foundation is casting its approach as simply keeping pace with the times.
“The foundation’s goal is to create, with NARA, a new model for the next generation of presidential centers that reflects the way people access information in this digital age,” an Obama Foundation spokesperson told Fox News, referring to the National Archives and Records Administration. “The Obama Foundation will be funding through private funds the digitization of all non-classified presidential records in order to help facilitate better access to these documents to a broader audience.”
Presidential libraries typically attract historians and students from across the nation who are eager to sift through records, speeches, documents and letters. But without the artifacts physically at the center, some experts have questioned the process.
…NARA told the Tribune that the classified documents from Obama’s presidency will be stored in an existing facility in Washington, while the non-classified documents probably will be stored in a NARA facility outside the district.
Planners for months have made clear that Obama’s post-presidency project will be different from other presidential centers.”
So if you want to go to the Obama library (it’s called that for a reason!), dig out and read one of the former-president’s speeches, too bad. You’re out of luck. However it’s doubtless you’ll be able to gaze adoringly at any of the dozens of giant pictures of him that are sure to adorn the walls of the joint.
You’ve got to hand it to Obama, the man is nothing if not consistent.
[NOTE: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn, Founder and Chairman of the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives, and a speaker, author, columnist and analyst for multiple print and broadcast media outlets. Follow him on Facebook and at RMBlackConservatives.com.]