Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.
Barack Obama has over three years to go in his second term, but he is getting the jump on planning his post-administration presidential library.
We got a sneak peak at the design last week, when Howard Bashford, chief librarian designee, invited us to see the plans and architect’s renderings.
As we met in Howard’s offices, the library’s head archivist designee, Amy Handleman, bustled about, pulling out file drawers and stuffing papers into folders.
Howard, ignoring Handleman, took several large, cardboard tubes from a bin in his conference room, extracted drawings and blueprints and laid them on a large table.
“We expect the ‘Missing Documents Room’ to be very popular,” he said, pointing it out on the plans. “It will have space for the president’s academic writings, his school and university transcripts, student ratings of his Constitution course – if those things ever turn up.”
From across the table, Handleman added, “We’re reserving an empty display case for his original birth certificate.”
“We won’t neglect anything,” answered Howard coldly. “From ‘Missing Documents’ visitors will move … where is that drawing? Ah, here it is. They’ll move on to the ‘I Didn’t Know Archive.’ This will contain all the documents the president didn’t know about.
“You know, he didn’t know that the Justice Department was covering up the ‘Fast and Furious’ gun running operation, that the IRS was harassing political groups, that the ‘offensive video’ had nothing to do with the Benghazi attack, that his attorney general was spying on reporters, or that the NSA was engaged in warrantless domestic data mining.”
I pointed to an octagonal space near the building’s atrium and asked, “What’s this?”
Howard clapped his hands excitedly. “That little installation will really help people understand our president’s humanity,” he said. “It’s called the ‘Deserved Respite from His Heavy Responsibilities Room,’ and it will contain some wonderful presidential memorabilia.
“Scholars will be able to look at all his golf scores, for example. There will be an entire wall of files for those. And we’ll display the actual deck of playing cards Mr. Obama and his aide used, playing ’15 games of spades’ when the president got bored as Seal Team Six closed in on Osama bin Laden.
“There will be family photos from Camp David, of course, and memorabilia not only from Mr. Obama’s trips, but also from the junkets … excuse me, excursions of Mrs. Obama and the ‘first daughters.’”
“What’s this?” I asked. “Looks like a utility closet.”
“Well, that’s about the size of it, but it’s precious in its own way,” said Howard. “It’s where we’ll display transcripts of all the truthful answers of Mr. Obama’s presidential press secretaries.”
“There’ll be plenty of space left for our brooms and mops,” said Handleman.
“Ahem!” said Howard, irritated. “We thought it appropriate to place it off the ‘What I Said Wasn’t What I Meant Room.’ That’s where we’ll archive all the ‘you can keep it’ speeches.
“Say! Do you know we’ll even have a display case with the beer bottles from the time Mr. Obama sat down with professor Henry Louis Gates, Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley and Vice President Joe Biden. That was after the president said the cops acted ‘stupidly’ in arresting the professor. The president had a domestic brew, you’ll recall.”
The blueprints showed a “Affordable Care Act Room,” and we asked joshingly, “Why isn’t that the ‘Obamacare Room’?”
“That’s a tentative name,” Howard said tartly. “The way the Affordable Care Act is going, it might not exist by the end of Mr. Obama’s term. In fact, he doesn’t like the name ‘Obamacare’ nearly as much as he did just a few weeks ago.
“We might have to rename it the ‘Total Peace in the Middle East Room.’ Let’s just move on to the ‘In Chief Room.’
“This will have dioramas depicting the president in all the roles for which people have dubbed him ‘in chief.’ There’s environmentalist in chief. We can’t forget curly light bulbs, the Keystone Pipeline (not!), and cap and trade. There are also peacemaker in chief (he did get the Nobel Peace Prize, you know), orator in chief, et cetera.”
“Golfer in chief,” said Handleman, “celebrity in chief, bully in chief, liar in chief …”
Howard shot her an angry look but continued, “Let’s conclude with the ‘Redacted Room.’ That will be the centerpiece of the library.”
He showed me a rendering of a vast, cathedral-like hall with a lofty, coffered ceiling. Beams of light shone down through the clerestory windows. Ranks of long study tables, complete with built-in reading lights, filled the hall.
“We expect scholars to spend hours in here,” Howard said, “trying to tell what pages and pages of blacked-out type might have meant.”
“It should a Zen-like experience,” interjected Handleman.
I suggested the library would have an awful lot of space turned over to data of questionable value and Howard sighed, “For now, questionable is all we have to work with.”