Chicago Tribune Offers Trash Talk to Hawaii In Campaign to Land Obama Presidential Library

In Monday's New York Times, reporter Ashley Parker covered how Hawaii is mounting a long-shot bid to host the Obama presidential library after the president leaves office in 2017.

"Many of his closest friends, political allies and top fund-raisers are from Chicago, which is already considered the top candidate for landing at least the president’s papers and artifacts," she wrote. Then she added that the Chicago Tribune was trash talking against a Hawaiian library, like no one reads books in Hawaii. The Times somehow failed to smell racism in it:

In an editorial in July, The Chicago Tribune said, “With no insult to Hawaii’s respect for the life of the mind, it’s fair to say that very few people go there in fierce pursuit of book learning.”

There was more the Times did not quote:

Who's going to want to relive the 2009 stimulus debate when they could be snorkeling, surfing, peering into a volcano, lying on a beach, playing golf, gorging at a luau or learning to appreciate ukulele music? And we might mention those distractions are available year-round.

In Chicago, by contrast, the climate, pace of life and recreational options will weigh more in favor of retreating to a museum to learn about the achievements of Ray LaHood at the Department of Transportation. Scholars undistracted by gentle breezes and hula dancers will have more incentive to delve into the machinations that produced the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Tribune is being more than a bit silly. Most tourists in a presidential library visit the exhibits and learn about the president who is honored. For example, the Clinton library in Little Rock gives prominent space to letters Clinton received from Elton John and Arsenio Hall. Tourists don't come to write term papers or books. Hawaii wants another tourist attraction and wants to show pride as a birthplace of a president.

Parker explained the Hawaii proposal:

The state has already set aside a prominent piece of real estate in the Kaka‘ako district for the potential project: an eight-acre stretch, estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars, between downtown Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Diamond Head volcanic cone.

Mr. Perkinson refused to discuss private conversations, but people familiar with the effort say he has reached out to Maya Soetoro-Ng, Mr. Obama’s half-sister; Bobby Titcomb, the president’s high school friend from the Punahou School in Hawaii; and Alyssa Mastromonaco, the White House aide tasked with planning Mr. Obama’s presidential library and foundation.

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