By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Reagan's has an Air Force One. Bush's has a TBM Avenger like the one he flew in World War II. And in the bigger-is-better world of presidential libraries, only Hoover's is smaller than former President Clinton's. All of which has Clinton itching to expand his library and museum in Little Rock, Ark., to include more gee-whiz exhibits.
During a recent trip to Little Rock, friends say that Clinton met with architects to discuss expanding the library, which opened in 2004 at a cost of $165 million. We hear he wants two new wings, more exhibits, and a Marine One display that would rival Reagan's jet. In telling the Arkansas Times about his copter dream, he reasoned that it would boost traffic. "One day," he said, "I hope to get a presidential helicopter there, which should increase the number of people coming." A spokesman says the changes are probably years off. [Memo to Clinton: Move fast, because former President George H. W. Bush's library is looking for a Marine One too.]
Benjamin Hufbauer, author of Presidential Temples: How Memorials and Libraries Shape Public Memory, thinks he knows what's driving Bubba: making his library bigger than successor George W. Bush's, now under construction in Dallas. "It's never too soon to start building up your presidential legacy into something even bigger," Hufbauer says. "Maybe with the expansion, they'll be close to equal."
Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR.