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Agenda Texas: The Legacy of George W. Bush

On the latest Agenda Texas, from KUT News and the Tribune: The George W. Bush Presidential Center, which will be dedicated Thursday, displays Bush's presidential legacy. But what's his legacy as Texas governor?

Cowboy boots on display at the Bush Presidential museum

The George W. Bush Presidential Center will be officially dedicated Thursday on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas. Dignitaries from across the political world will be on hand to get a peek at the 13th official presidential library.

Bush is, of course, the 43rd president. So why only 13 libraries? Libraries established before President Herbert Hoover’s fall outside the purview of the National Archives and Records Administration and therefore don't count.

Bush's Time as Governor

This official library and museum gives visitors a detailed and interactive look at the first presidency of the 21st century. But while the media’s attention is focused this week on his time as president, we’re going to take a moment to look back at his time as Texas governor. R.G. Ratcliffe covered Texas politics for 29 years, including following Mr. Bush as he ran twice for governor, and then twice for president.

"His legacy as governor mostly comes out of his 1994 campaign against Ann Richards," Ratcliffe said. "He ran on essentially four issues: education reform, tort reform, welfare reform and juvenile justice reform."

And because of help Bush got from then-Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, Bush was able to get each of those policy objectives passed into law.

Of those signature items, the education policies proved to be the most lasting. The polices of accountability and testing are not only still in place in Texas, but Bush took that platform to Washington to create the No Child Left Behind Act.

A First Glance

As I walked around the Bush center today, I heard a couple of people who helped create the museum say Bush had one simple request to those building his library: Don’t make this a monument to me — make it a monument to the office of the president.

And in that spirit, one of the highlights of the museum tour is a replica of the Oval Office. Former first lady Laura Bush was on hand during Wednesday’s media tour of the facility. She told reporters that her favorite part was working on that office, both here and in the White House.

"I love the Oval Office," she said. "It was fun to decorate it when I did 12 years ago. It's fun to see it get re-created here."

The re-creation of the Bush Oval Office includes a replica of the historic Resolute desk, which several presidents, including Barack Obama, have used.

"A man from Ohio called us and said, 'I have a replica of the Resolute desk, and I've been using it and I'd like to give it to you now,'" Laura Bush said. "So the Resolute desk in there is a gift from a friend in Ohio."

Watch the entire dedication ceremony Thursday at 10 a.m. on kutnews.org.

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