A presidential rose by any other name

I have about five cardboard boxes full of stuff that I moved, mostly newspapers from my previous jobs, that remain unpacked. I vowed to one day clip the articles I kept from those papers except for those particular pages I wanted to keep such as the front page when the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded. I probably will never get around to clipping them though, realist that I am.

But on the bright side I did manage to throw away a whole lot of crap that I had accumulated over the past 25 years or so. Why I kept every matchbook from everywhere I have ever been is beyond me. I never aspired to be a matchbook collector. Postcards are something different. I’ve been collecting them since I was a kid. Not that I am any kind of big-time collector. It’s just when someone sent me a postcard I would keep it. Or I would go somewhere and see a postcard and buy it. Or I would find a really odd, old one at a flea market and spend a buck on it. But matchbooks, no. I used to pick up matchbooks because I smoked. Now I don’t — smoke or pick up matchbooks.

I am going to make a really big leap right here, from my crap-o-rama to presidential crap-o-rama. When I was working in Waco, one of the big deals was the attempt by Baylor University to get President George W. Bush to locate his presidential library there after he is out of office. It’s a logical wish on Baylor’s part. GW has his place outside of Crawford which is only a 10-minute ride or less by helicopter from Baylor or a 25-minute ride by armored Suburban.

Of course, the Bushes and most notably Laura, have made their intentions known that they will be living in Dallas after they move out of the White House. GW will still keep the ranch, should he find himself feeling sort of insignificant in the middle of the night and just has to go whack some mountain cedar. Their living in Dallas means, however, that his presidential library could go to Southern Methodist University (Laura’s college). Other schools in the running include a daily double for Texas A & M, which has his dad’s library.

These presidential libraries are a wealth of information for serious geeks who study presidents. They also are a tourist attraction. I’ve only been to one — LBJ’s at the University of Texas at Austin. But when you come right down to it, the commodity being sold is crap. And I know there is a lot more crap collected during a four-year or eight-year presidency than my past 25 years of semi-significance.

Waco, and Baylor University, wants your crap Mr. President. So does SMU. So does A & M. It’s historical crap, no doubt about it. I know that going through my years of crap I’ve kept anything related to the U.S. President. That includes a certificate of gratitude that the president sends when a veteran dies. In this case, it was for my dad and it was signed by Bill Clinton. Some may call that ironic. Others may call it a crying shame.

And I’ve kept my press passes for presidential events I covered in Crawford. One such pass almost pisses me off so badly I can hardly bear to look at it. It’s got my name and affiliation written in pen and is all smeared on the page. That’s because the children who run presidential events felt it made perfect sense to keep the press waiting out in a downpour for 30 minutes at Fort Hood while … well I don’t quite know what they were doing. If it was all for security’s sake, I’d be understanding. But we were finally let in and then the Secret Service swept the place for bombs and other assorted items. Chill boy.

So I have my presidential crap as well and I can understand why people think that it’s important. On the other hand, millions of dollars are being spent just to attract the president’s crap to a college campus so the college and town it is located in can make even more millions of dollars. It’s not like GW will be leaving crown jewels. It’s crap. Isn’t that a little warped?

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