How George W. Bush and His Pals Kept the Freedom Institute Free from SMU's Prying

Several Friends of Unfair Park have gotten the jump on their Sunday New York Times and found within two stories with local ties. Chief among them: the magazine story about George W. Bush's Freedom Institute on the SMU campus. Much of it rehashes the last two-plus years' worth of controversy, especially the complaints of professors who didn't and still don't want the thing anywhere near the campus, but there are plenty of revelations contained in the lengthy piece. Among them:

When I asked why the [Bush] foundation insisted on controlling the institute, I received a range of answers. (Bush declined to be interviewed for this article.) Mark Langdale, president of the Bush Foundation, told me the president and his advisers "wanted an environment that is free of campus politics," though of what nature he didn't specify.  [R. Gerald] Turner, S.M.U.'s president, explained about as carefully as was humanly possible, "They wanted to make sure that all points of view, including their own point of view, have a chance to be expressed." [Bush friend and former commerce secretary] Donald Evans said it was a matter of fiduciary responsibility. "If I'm going to ask someone to be supportive of this with their generous contribution," he said, "I need to able to tell them that I will be fully responsible to them."

It seems, however, from [John Raisian, Hoover Institution director]'s recollections, that an administration notoriously distrustful of academia -- at least liberal academia -- and doggedly certain of its own principles did not want to subject itself to the intellectual standards of whatever university would serve as its host, even one as relatively conservative as S.M.U.
Also in The Times tomorrow is a story about President Barack Obama's five --count 'em -- pastors, among them T.D. Jakes. That too is a familiar tale.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky