Will There Be a Trump Presidential Library? Don’t Count On It
January 25, 2021 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Will There Be a Trump Presidential Library? Don’t Count On It (Politico): "It’s not because he doesn’t read books (presidential libraries aren’t that kind of library), and not because his presidency ended in a shocking insurrection at the U.S. Capitol fanned by Trump himself, resulting in a second impeachment. Other presidents have stepped down in borderline disgrace—Richard Nixon resigned; Herbert Hoover lost in a landslide, blamed for the Great Depression—and still got their libraries. Trump likely won’t even manage to build a private library, such as the one Nixon finally created for himself. Or the “center” for which Barack Obama has had great difficulty even breaking ground, which will lack a government presence, a research facility, or archives. Presidential libraries are complicated. And if you understand how they work—and how Trump himself works—it’s nearly impossible to imagine him actually pulling it off." Related: National Archives launches website for Trump Presidential Library (Politico); Trump to flee Washington and seek rehabilitation in a MAGA oasis: Florida (The Washington Post)
posted by not_the_water (48 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is you setting up an archive for a criminal fucking conspiracy?
posted by benzenedream at 10:52 AM on January 25 [43 favorites]


This place is a message... and part of a system of messages... pay attention to it!
Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.
This place is not a place of honor... no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here... nothing valued is here.
What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.
The danger is in a particular location... it increases towards a center... the center of danger is here... of a particular size and shape, and below us.
The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.
The danger is to the body, and it can kill.
This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.
posted by roue at 10:57 AM on January 25 [114 favorites]


And nothing of value was lost.
posted by Splunge at 10:57 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


I had no idea presidential libraries were such complex beasts in terms of planning/funding.
posted by jquinby at 10:57 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]




To get the ball rolling, former presidents must create a nonprofit to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. While they may do so in unlimited sums, with almost no disclosure, from any source, anywhere in the world, it’s a lot easier to do it while in office.

This sentence is pretty much spelling out that while there might be no Presidential Library, there will definitely be a Presidential Library Fundraising Campaign.
posted by trig at 11:16 AM on January 25 [48 favorites]




45 Library is a collection of speculations by artists, designers, and architects on the subject of the presidential library for the 45th president.

Someone I was at grad school with is involved with this project.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 11:29 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I am more than confident that if Donnie can find a way to use public dollars to rent space to himself, to honour himself, he will find that way.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:31 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


They'll just build a privately run Trump Museum instead. The gift shop will be four times the size of the exhibition hall.
posted by Sockdown at 11:32 AM on January 25


Why do you do this to yourselves?
These people are just interchangable modular politics processing units - when one burns out you pull it out, plug in a new one and throw the old one away. You don't build fucking memorial garden to it.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 11:37 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


The only presidential library with a grift shop.
posted by Alterscape at 11:41 AM on January 25 [33 favorites]


Can't remember the source, but I remember a prediction that the Reagan library would be "a shelf of Reader's Digest Condensed Books, plus a couple of TV Guides".
posted by gimonca at 11:45 AM on January 25


My prediction is that instead of library, there will be a Trump Presidential Casino.

Until it goes out of business.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:50 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Why do you do this to yourselves?
These people are just interchangable modular politics processing units - when one burns out you pull it out, plug in a new one and throw the old one away. You don't build fucking memorial garden to it.
a Presidential Library has utility as a repository for all of the documents and records that cover a President's term, so that historians can sift through this as they study this period in history.

Therefore the Trump Presidential Library will probably just be everything under subpoena in the Department of Justice.
posted by bl1nk at 12:18 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


Coloring books, porn and a copy of Mein Kampf...
posted by AJaffe at 12:30 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


Not one dime for a madman's lounge. Congress should pass a law placing his papers in the basement, somewhere, if he wants to access them, he can call ahead.
posted by clavdivs at 12:32 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Presidents' papers should simply be stored in the National Archives at government expense. There's no need to have each president fund a "Temple of Me".

Centrally located presidential archives will also make scholarship much more efficient.
posted by monotreme at 12:41 PM on January 25 [22 favorites]


Libraries seem natural for Trump.

If there is anything he knows, it's how to make any business a non-profit.
posted by nickggully at 1:29 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


What is so expensive about an outhouse and used copies of Art of the Deal and Mein Kampf?
posted by mephron at 1:34 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


....Hang on....

So I RTFA, and it said that one of the big hurdles any president faces upon creating a library is building it. The government doesn't fund it. However, once it is built, the president donates the building to the government along with a trust fund to pay for the upkeep and staffing.

....Is it just me, or is there a possibility that Trump might attempt to turn Trump Tower in NYC over to the government as "the Trump Presidential Library" in order to get out of paying back loans on the thing?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:45 PM on January 25 [8 favorites]


Should be like the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark...someone tells Trump they have "Top Men" working on it....and then all the files get put inside a wooden box and stored in the middle of a nameless warehouse never to be opened again.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 1:46 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


is there a possibility that Trump might attempt to turn Trump Tower in NYC over to the government as "the Trump Presidential Library"

I'd guess not with the requirement that the library come with an endowment worth 60% of the "project cost" (the cost of Trump Tower?) to fund staffing and operations. Hell, any endowment to go with the library is probably a dealbreaker for Trump.
posted by fatbird at 1:49 PM on January 25


"What is so expensive about an outhouse and used copies of Art of the Deal and Mein Kampf?"
Here's a concept for a trump library building which could hold the aforementioned books and a few magazines.

(with apologies to The Little Free Library.)

More seriously, kudos for the creative thinking people are putting into this. The country does need to memorialize 45 in a way that adequately teaches the future.
posted by lathrop at 1:53 PM on January 25


Some of Trump’s associates are buzzing about a possible presidential library and museum — likely located, yes, in Florida — and about the birth of a family dynasty, should his children, Donald Jr. or Ivanka, someday run for political office. Florida is seen as a better launchpad for the Trumps than New York, given the outgoing president’s popularity in the former.

What is this? A center for sycophants?!
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 2:07 PM on January 25 [12 favorites]


I really don't understand presidential libraries. Just make a law that received gifts go to the state and send documents and significant artifacts to the Smithsonian or some other actual library. (With guaranteed federal funding to support their proper storage and access.) I'm generally in favor of letting people do whatever makes them happy if it doesn't hurt anyone. Maybe I'm being inconsistent in my scorn for putting McKinley's White House piano on display. Someone must care about it. But, there are so many genuinely interesting things that aren't in museums!

It's been a long time, but I remember reading an essay arguing that part of the reason that US politics are so deranged is that we don't have a royal figurehead for people to care about as an individual person. So, instead of celebrating a Queen who reigns for sixty years and has no real influence in politics, we celebrate presidents. As a result, questions of policy become religious. (I could have sworn the article was by Joan Didion, but I can't find it.) I hate the idea. I hate royalty. I hate being an arrogant jerk who believes the world would be a better place is people sillier than me believed in false gods. But, I'm also not entirely sure they were wrong.
The only presidential library with a grift shop.
When I was a kid, we took a school trip to the new Reagan library. I was too young to really have a cogent political opinion. But, even then, I thought the little pieces of genuine Berlin wall in the gift shop priced at the cost of a family restaurant dinner were incredibly silly. I'd love to hear an interview with whoever came up with that business.
posted by eotvos at 2:29 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


I expect if there is a Trump Presidential Library, that one of the educational activities for schoolchildren visiting should be "imagine you're a White House staffer during the Trump administration - you too can try to tape together important must-be-archived documents after the president has torn them into pieces before throwing them away."
posted by rmd1023 at 2:36 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


Scott McDougall's (Andy Daly) design for the library.
posted by bluefly at 3:49 PM on January 25


We still haven't figured out where to store nuclear waste. Some place that carries with it a universal warning so that even a thousand years from now, no one will dare approach.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:55 PM on January 25


The only one I have any experience with is the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, whose complex is also home to The Carter Center, one of the more important voices for democracy and human rights in the world.

So I assume the Trump Library won't be like that.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:06 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


...is there a possibility that Trump might attempt to turn Trump Tower in NYC over to the government as "the Trump Presidential Library" in order to get out of paying back loans on the thing?

Given that the building itself is probably collateral for the loans, I’d say there’s no way in hell that thing is going anywhere other than to the creditors.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:13 PM on January 25


There's no need to have each president fund a "Temple of Me".

It's not just presidents either. Before the pandemic, I used to drive past the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate which is right next door to his more presidental brother's library.

What can one find at the EMK Institute? A replica of the Senate chambers AND a replica of Kennedy's Senate office!

Supposedly this Institute exists to bring attention to the role of the Senate, and while I'd like believe their mission is to educate about how fundamentally broken the filibuster is or how the Senate only exists to provide disproportionate power to slave states, I have a strong suspicion that they focus more on the "worlds greatest deliberative body" aspects of it.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:22 PM on January 25


Couldn't we have a ceremonial urinal instead?
posted by doctor_negative at 4:35 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


You sure this isn’t just a “library” (as in 3 ring binder) of collected takeout menus?
posted by floweredfish at 4:58 PM on January 25


Centrally located presidential archives will also make scholarship much more efficient.

Not necessarily. They're often located in a president's "home town" where there are likely to be other sources of information on said president. I did some work for the Herbert Hoover NHS and having the library and museum right there was a lot more convenient then having to travel to DC.
posted by Preserver at 5:00 PM on January 25


Trump Announces "Office of the Former President" to “advance the interests of the United States and to carry on the agenda of the Trump Administration.”
posted by waitingtoderail at 5:10 PM on January 25


Why wouldn’t Trump get his own library? He loves monuments to himself, and all he has to do is take money from one of his charities to fund it.
posted by Melismata at 5:11 PM on January 25


office of the former president just seems stiff and obvious to me ... hmm ... how about

Last One Serving Enormous Reich?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:26 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


is there a possibility that Trump might attempt to turn Trump Tower in NYC over to the government as "the Trump Presidential Library"

I don't think so. They don't go on record about this a lot but the people from the National Archives haaaaaaaaated him and I don't think there's anyone in this administration who would allow him to continue his awful grifting. I've been to a few presidential libraries (Kennedy, Johnson, Coolidge) and they can be both museums about the guy but also archvies for their documents, their gifts and a bunch of other stuff that gets offloaded from DC after their term. And many of the presidents are buried there which is a whole 'nother thing. Will go read more from the links now, thanks for this post.
posted by jessamyn at 5:33 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Also a recent New Yorker essay about presidential libraries regarding DT. Their theme is that he hated taking notes and making personal recordings/documents, so there isn't really much unique available content to go into a DTPL (except for documentation of his twitter comments I guess).
posted by ovvl at 5:46 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Couldn't we have a ceremonial urinal instead?

Give it enough time and there will be one, official or not.
posted by mollweide at 5:48 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


One of his militias could repurpose an underground bunker in an undisclosed location with super secret contents tended by devoted acolytes. And a grift shoppe.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 6:31 PM on January 25


I guess I'm the odd one out here in that I really like the presidential libraries (good list on Wikipedia). I've visited a few of them, and have rarely found them not worth a visit. I'm pleased that there are now libraries being constructed retrospectively for some of the pre-NARA presidents.

They shouldn't be the only source of information about a particular president, because they have a certain implicit (or in some cases pretty explicit) bias, but they represent sort of the internal history of particular administrations.

I don't really understand the nuances of the Obama "new model", but if it results in something that's functionally similar to the existing presidential libraries, with utility both to the general public and researchers, then... fine, I guess? It seems like the difference from the old model is, in the "new model", NARA is going to keep the original records after digitization, while previously the originals would have gone to the Library itself?
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:53 PM on January 25


This is a wonderful, wonderful quote from the Washington Post article, which reads a bit like one of Carl Hiaasen's Florida detective novels. It should be etched in cubic zirconium on a collectable plate from the Franklin Mint and sent to every new resident of The Villages:
Rick Wilson, a longtime Republican strategist in Florida, explained the state's appeal to Trump -- including that Florida’s Republican base is especially "Trumpy."

"It fits in with Florida's overall character of being the magnet for all insanity in the universe," Wilson said. "We are what we are in the great state of Florida, and that is a state of lives restarting and second-chances and reboots and low property taxes and liberal bankruptcy laws and a fairly casual approach to public ethics. Florida, in some freakish, horrible way, is the Trumpiest of states. This is the logical place for them to come."
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:03 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


I am sure a port-a-potty would be adequate to hold Trump's "important" papers, and there would also be a practical use for them.
posted by mermayd at 7:12 AM on January 26


Not one dime for a madman's lounge. Congress should pass a law placing his papers in the basement, somewhere, if he wants to access them, he can call ahead.

I like the idea of his library being relegated to a basement, more specifically in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard."
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:38 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]


It'll be stocked with all the books he supposedly wrote.

Remember, this is the president who tore up notes after he read them, that the staff has to have follow him around, pick up the pieces he just tore up, and tape them back together for the National archives.
posted by kschang at 11:46 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I like the idea of his library being relegated to a basement, more specifically in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard."
I don't know. The Vogons weren't typically acting on the side of truth and justice. The Nixon tapes have been fascinating and quite valuable. Way more important than the papers of less horrible presidents. I'm more surprised that anyone whose name appears in Trump's documents would want them archived.
posted by eotvos at 1:54 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


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