News Column

George W Bush, Still Unpopular, Opens Library in Texas

April 25, 2013
George W Bush

Four U.S. presidents gathered Thursday in Dallas, Texas, to help one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history, George W Bush, open his presidential library.

U.S. President Barack Obama joined former presidents Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush and Bill Clinton at the dedication of the George W Bush Presidential Center, located on the grounds of Southern Methodist University.

The elder Bush, whose health is ailing, was seen in a wheelchair in a live broadcast.

More than half of Americans still see Bush in a negative light, according to opinion surveys.

The former president has kept an extremely low profile since leaving office in early 2009, and history's judgement on his eight years in office is not yet complete.

The library aims to shape that judgement, with objects and interactive displays that accent his controversial handling of major events during his term: the disputed outcome of his election in 2000; the 9/11 attacks in 2001; the invasion of Iraq in 2003; the belated response to hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005; and the U.S. financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

The center does not shy away from the controversies, according to the museum's website. The Decision Points Theatre invites visitors to sit at individual computer terminals and second guess Bush on the invasion of Iraq, the 2007 troops surge in Iraq, hurricane Katrina and the 2008 banks bailout.

The programme recites the facts of the event, then asks the visitor what he or she would have done.

In an interview with CNN before the opening, Bush was asked about his reaction to the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 200.

"I was reminded evil exists," Bush said. He also mentioned the explosion of the fertilizer plant in Texas last week, not far from his ranch, that killed more than a dozen people, most of them first responders to a fire that triggered the explosion.

"Both incidents reminded me of how fragile life can be for some. Both incidents made us weep knowing that someone was hurting a lot," he said.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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