He may be a certified lame duck now, but President Bush and his truest believers are about to launch their final campaign - an eye-popping, half-billion-dollar drive for the Bush presidential library.I just love that last sentence. I wonder if any of those megadonors will expect anything in return.
Eager to begin refurbishing his tattered legacy, the President hopes to raise $500 million to build his library and a think tank at Southern Methodist University in Dallas....
Bush sources with direct knowledge of library plans told the Daily News that SMU and Bush fund-raisers hope to get half of the half billion from what they call "megadonations" of $10 million to $20 million a pop.
Bush loyalists have already identified wealthy heiresses, Arab nations and captains of industry as potential "mega" donors and are pressing for a formal site announcement - now expected early in the new year.
The rest of the cash will come from donors willing to pony up $25,000 to $5 million.
"It's a stretch," said another source briefed on the plans. "It's so much bigger than anything that's been tried before. But the more you have, the more influence [on history] you can exert."
The half-billion target is double what Bush raised for his 2004 reelection and dwarfs the funding of other presidential libraries. But Bush partisans are determined to have a massive pile of endowment cash to spread the gospel of a presidency that for now gets poor marks from many scholars and a majority of Americans.
The legacy-polishing centerpiece is an institute, which several Bush insiders called the Institute for Democracy. Patterned after Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Bush's institute will hire conservative scholars and "give them money to write papers and books favorable to the President's policies," one Bush insider said.
[P]lanners believe hometown and Texas pride will outweigh any drag from Bush's diminished political fortunes. "The money will be there," a senior Bush adviser said. "The President is very popular in Dallas and the library will be great for the city and SMU."
There's another major inducement for potential donors: Their names aren't required to be made public.
So much for Mr. I-Don't-Care-What-Stoopit-History-Thinks-Because-We'll-All-Be-Dead. Dubya realizes that there's a very real chance that he will go down in history as a disgrace, as The Worst President Ever, and that he needs to hire as many flacks and sycophants as he can to sing his praises, even after his stain has been scrubbed from the White House. In a perfect world, a full-court press might be enough to edge him past his role models, Nixon and Harding. In the real world, it might be enough to bring him close to Reagan, especially if anything even remotely hopeful or positive occurs in the Middle East, which his foundation (and then the media) will immediately hail as the inevitable outcome of his Bold Strategic Vision.
$500 million buys an awful lot of lipstick... but this is an awfully large pig.