Smith out

Grant scholar Brooks Simpson, editor of the Great Campaigns Series, kindly tipped me on a missed story: Richard Norton Smith (right) is on his way out of the Lincoln Library and Museum.

Smith tends not to stay too long in these posts. He is off to George Mason, almost within arm's reach (choking distance?).

I don't think Smith was out front enough - that's very subjective but I don't think if I were the governor, I would consider Smith as having delivered to my project a sufficient number of media darling bonus points. A gut feeling.

Smith goes out with the kind of made-for-the-TV observation that gets under my skin:
Smith said his favorite memory from the museum was the time he watched a black family looking at statues of Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, with the mother telling her children about the famous abolitionists. Inspiring people to talk about history from a personal viewpoint instead of just listening to the experts is exactly what the museum should be doing, he said. "It's not just our history," Smith said. "It's your history."
Oh man.

I'm picturing a nightmare scenario: "Hey! Hey you people over there!" [Big, loud, tactless guy plants himself in front of a mother.] "It's not just our history," [thumps chest] "It's your history" [poking woman with index finger; children start to cry].

Cultural facilities can be very attractive as patronage dumps - Smith's job was to be the honest outside face of this Illinois project through launch phase. His job is done. Let the games begin.