Friday, August 29, 2008

SAA: John Dean

It's late and I need to go to bed, so this post is going to be brief. Today's plenary speaker was John Dean. Yes, that John Dean. His research has led him to become a friend of archives and archivists, and he had some interesting things to say about the undue influence that the foundation supporting the Nixon Presidential Library has had over the library's processing, access, and exhibit decisions; he also questioned whether major donors to the Clinton Presidential Library have had too much say over the library's operations. He also roundly condemned President Bush's efforts to undermine the Presidential Records Act of 1978.

Dean's remarks were largely extemporaneous, and he fired off a few funny zingers ("Mitt Romney is Nixon on Prozac," "Rudy Giuliani is Nixon on crystal meth") but it's blazingly evident that he is no fan of the Republican Party as it currently exists. I happen to share his basic outlook, but some of his remarks--and those of some audience members who asked questions after his speech ended--must have made my Republican colleagues in the audience feel just a bit unwelcome.

FWIW, John Dean and I hold undergraduate degrees from the same small liberal arts college.

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