Departing President Bush to Establish “Freedom Institute”

The Washington Post reports that President Bush will be starting something called the “Freedom Institute” as part of his presidential library in Dallas. This institute would focus on a what the Post describes as a “broad portfolio of topics, including the expansion of democracy abroad and education reforms of the kind Bush implemented during his presidency, according to organizers.”

The Post story goes on to talk about the institute’s goal of focusing on debate:

“The president’s vision is for it to become an incubator of ideas, discussion and debate about the issues that were front and center during his presidency, including the controversy,” said Dan Bartlett, a former counselor to Bush who is acting as a spokesman for the project. “The idea here is to have a place where that debate can continue.”

Not surprisingly, many find President Bush creating something called the “Freedom Institute” to be ironic, or even offensive.  David Boaz of the Cato Institute had this to say at the Cato@Liberty blog:

The president who launched our longest war, arrogated more power to the executive than ever before, increased federal spending by a trillion dollars, pushed for the biggest expansion of entitlements since Lyndon Johnson, further nationalized education, tried to nationalize marriage, and held Americans in jail without access to a lawyer or a judge has found a theme for his presidential library: freedom.

Surely this is an effort to repair George W. Bush’s reputation—his approval rating is the lowest since Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.  But the soon-to-be (at the time of this post) former president insists that the library and public policy institute won’t be about him.  Again, from the Washington Post:

“This is not going to be a ‘George Bush Is a Wonderful Person Center,’ or ‘The Center for Republican Party Campaign Tactics,’ ” Bush said during one of his last media interviews as president. “It’s going to be a place of debate, thought, writing, lecturing.”

Well put, Mr. Bush.