The endless saga of the proposed Eisenhower Memorial is a horror story. In his latest report on it, Andrew Ferguson introduces the theme of monstrosity: “Like Lazarus, or maybe Frankenstein’s monster, the appalling plan for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., appears to be sputtering to life once more. Only two months ago it seemed safely kaput.”
The saga also works a variation on a vampire tale. Someone is going to have to drive a stake through the heart of the thing to kill it.
The proposed memorial itself is a monstrosity. As Andy puts it:
The design by “starchitect” Frank Gehry aims for a deconstructionist fantasy that scatters its elements (massive stone blocks, a few statues, a vast metallic screen hoisted between 80-foot posts) across a chaotic city block just off the National Mall. It’s a sly insult to Dwight Eisenhower and the homespun virtues he typifies in the American imagination. And coming from the famously antibourgeois Gehry, it is very likely a pitiless joke—completely missed by its targets—on the aesthetic judgment of the bureaucrats and bumpkins responsible for preserving the integrity of the city’s memorials.
The thing has been killed several times over. “Then,” as Ferguson reports, “Bob Dole showed up.” It’s twilight again.
Enter Jim Sensenbrenner, with a stake in his hands, aimed at the heart of the monster:
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wisc.) demanded the commission established to oversee the construction of a monument honoring U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower be stripped of funding in a letter penned to the chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Appropriations.
The 11-member Eisenhower Memorial Commission has been working on the project since 1999, though disputes regarding the design of architect Frank Gehry have resulted in no memorial yet being built.
“Though the Commission was established to erect a National Memorial to honor the former President and five-star general, its approach has been deeply flawed and highly contentious,” Sensenbrenner wrote to Reps. Harold Rogers (R., Ky.) and Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.) on Aug. 21.
“The Commission’s complete disregard of critics to the design, among them Eisenhower’s own family, raises serious concerns about the process,” the GOP congressman continued, charging the commission with wasting “millions in taxpayer dollars all while creating more disagreement than consensus.”
Let us pray.