Rock stars, actors and even some Republicans converged on Little Rock, Ark., on Thursday to help former president Bill Clinton celebrate the opening of his new presidential library.
The event brought out more than 30,000 guests, among them President George W. Bush and his father, as well as a handful of celebrities including Barbra Streisand and Robin Williams, and U2’s Bono and the Edge.
A dedication ceremony for the library, which includes more than 80 million presidential items, featured a rendition of the song “America” by trumpeter Phil Driscoll, and a reading of the poem “My Life” by Rita Dove, who became the first black U.S. poet laureate when nominated by Clinton in 1993, the Associated Press reports.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton opened the ceremony with remarks about her husband’s career, and U2’s Bono and The Edge provided music for the occasion. Despite the fanfare, attendees made it clear that the former President Clinton was the star of this show.
“Bill Clinton is the best president we’ve ever had in the United States,” said one guest for the unveiling of the $165-million presidential center. The library opens to the public Friday, and for $7 visitors can check out such archives that hold two million photographs, 21 million e-mail messages and 79,000 gifts.
However, some critics of the library say that the collection doesn’t do justice to the most controversial aspect of Clinton’s legacy: his impeachment. Clinton addressed the subject during an interview with ABC News in which he said, “I made a terrible public-personal mistake, but I paid for it, many times over.” The ex-president added that he had never lied to the American public about his job.