I had a wonderful experience touring the Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan presidential libraries in 2015, where I savored history and celebrated American culture.

The plans for the Barack H. Obama presidential library seem to be taking a less scholarly turn, as they appeared to be geared to turning the facility into a progressive activity center:

The architectural centerpiece of the Obama campus—a 100-plus-foot-tall stone-clad tower—could also see its final look evolve. Though the designers confirmed the completion of 30 different studies for the structure, they would not elaborate on any changes. As far as programming is concerned, the tower’s top level will include an observation space open to the public while the museum itself would be accessible only by paying ticket holders.

Unlike traditional presidential libraries which house thousands of physical documents, the Jackson Park facility will provide digital access to President Obama’s archives, freeing up space for civic use including activities like basketball, dance recitals, and yoga classes. A community garden and test kitchen focused on nutritious foods (a cause championed by former First Lady Michelle Obama) could also be in the cards for Jackson Park.

Those interested in being serious about the Obama legacy are less than pleased at the plans:

…Chicago Tribune columnist Ron Grossman trashed the “test kitchen” idea as not worthy of the ideals and history for which the presidential center is supposed to stand.

“Mr. President, I’ve got to tell you: The renderings for your museum are ‘little plans,’ more likely to congeal than stir blood,” he wrote.

The problem, Grossman wrote, isn’t the design but the add-ons.

“What brought me up short was a space in the adjoining Forum building labeled ‘test kitchen.’ Presumably that reflects Michelle Obama’s war on junk food. The museum’s champions similarly suggest it could host yoga classes,” he wrote. “President Obama, is that how you want to be remembered? As the healthy-eating and meditation-advocating president?”

He added, “That’s not how I want the story to come down to my grandchildren’s children.”

The trouble that Grossman and other admirers of Obama will find is that by the time President Trump finishes his two terms, there won’t be much left to commemorate:

If one thing has defined President Trump’s approach to policy in his first year in office, it is his extraordinary zeal in trying to erase the accomplishments of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

From the petty (axing the White House bike-sharing station) to the profound (the Affordable Care Act), Trump has sought to roll back Obama achievements across the waterfront.

…And he has had some real successes: Through executive actions, regulatory rollbacks, and personnel appointments — especially to the judiciary — Trump has made serious headway toward his goal, even as some of his own major legislative intitiatives [sic] have languished.

And let’s not forget that President Trump’s team is slowly undoing Michelle Obama’s school lunch fiasco!

I might suggest that the first item placed in the Donald J. Trump presidential library is his giant eraser.


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