We feel for Rob Bishop.
Utah's 1st District Congressman is combating what has become the "memorial-industrial complex."
In 1999 Congress commissioned an Eisenhower memorial for Washington, D.C. It was more than 10 years later before a winning design by Frank Gehry was unveiled. The well-known architect designed iconic structures like the Guggenheim Museum in Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
More than $40 million later there is still no monument. And Bishop, who as chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, gets the unlucky duty of overseeing the project.
Bishop wants to start the process over. In March, he introduced legislation to scrap the current design, disband the current commission and begin the process anew. However, the Congressional Budget Office says that would cost an additional $17 million.
Bishop disputes that number.
Critics are howling. But we think Bishop is doing the right thing. The cost and delay for the project, up to when Bishop inherited oversight, is justification to scrap the project at this point.
Controversy over Washington memorials is nothing new. Usually someone doesn't like the design or concept. The Eisenhower family has objected to the current design.
This issue, though, isn't about honoring Eisenhower, or even about art. It is about government spending and a misdirected bureaucracy that is out of control.
The planned monument could end up being the most costly one ever built in Washington. About $60 million has already been allocated by Congress.
We agree with Bishop that this may be more of a memorial to the architect, rather than to the 34th President of the United States and Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during World War II.
"They wanted a Frank Gehry with an Eisenhower theme, not a monument to Eisenhower," Bishop said.
Eisenhower is worthy of a memorial. He was a simple man, with simple tastes. And such a memorial should reflect that.
In his 1961 farewell address, Eisenhower spoke of concerns about out-of-control military spending, and coined the term "military-industrial complex."
We won't address the irony of a former general making such an observation, or of Bishop's past support of military spending.
We will, though, praise the congressman, for tackling the out-of-control spending on such monuments.
That is a cause worthy of memorializing.