We were crossing the Arkansas River again, from our hotel in North Little Rock to one of the downtown restaurants. Off to the left, the cantilevered torpedo of the Clinton Library was gleaming. Where are the Bush libraries, we wondered. I grabbed my phone -- College Station for 41, Dallas for 43. Obama's will be in Chicago. I'm sure it will be lovely. I yawned.
I mused dreamily about possible futures. And then my librarian heart soared. Think of it! The Trump presidential library!
People say we need to think about the Supreme Court picks. Sure. But justices come and go and they never end up voting the way you want them to anyway. Let's think of posterity.
I'm optimistic about a Hillary presidency. She'll make some modest progressive steps. The healthcare system will be improved. We might get real immigration reform. College will become more affordable and there'll be a lessening of student debt. More renewable energy. More unsuccessful attempts at gun law reform - but at least she'll try. These are all fine things. But what about her library? What about history!
Since she grew up in Chicago it might end up there -- where it'll have to compete (again! fer chrissakes) with Barack's legacy. Or maybe they'll put it in Chappaqua, and you can take the train up from midtown. And it'll be sober and serious. There might be a tiny room or two devoted to the scandals and the umpteen investigations and congressional hearings that never managed to find any significant wrongdoing. Maybe in the gift shop you'll be able to buy a deluxe copy of those transcripts of her Goldman Sachs speeches that seemed so salacious during the campaign but turned out to be only mildly embarrassing examples of inconsequential political pandering. It'll be great for presidential historians and policy wonks. But except for the homeless guy with the Remember Benghazi! placard who spends the summers camped out front there won't be much drama. Not much of a tourist destination.
But the Trump Library! Oh, just think of it. In the middle of Manhattan, a wee bit taller than the Empire State Building. (As an example of his magnanimous humility he won't let it exceed One WTC, although he will point out how some of his fans begged him to go there). Gold plated of course. The letters of his name descending three stories at a time.
Think of the exhibits. The models and diagrams and plans for the wall that was never built, underneath the oversize check from Mexico that was never sent. A separate gallery for each of his wives. An entire floor used for miniature golf. The international relations bikini room.
Most popular of course, the interactive exhibit where you too can sit at Trump's desk, as holograms of world leaders and congressional enemies shimmer in front of you -- "You're fired!" you say, again and again, basking once more in the mogul confidence of the great man.
I can't resist it. Of course, Trump's presidency will be a disaster. I'm counting on the fact that in his far too long four years his inability to actually get any of his grandiose (can I actually call them) proposals through Congress or the courts will keep us from complete ruin. It won't matter to the narrative of his library though. When you walk through those doors and glide up the escalator commemorating the day he announced his candidacy, you'll be able to believe again, if only until you walk back out into the wreck of post-Trump America, that there was that shining moment when we convinced ourselves that the huckster was actually going to make America great. Again.