The government's reply was the same as Lincoln's when he was asked if he wanted an extra bodyguard at Ford's Theater: No thanks. Hopefully they won't regret it.
"Mount Rushmore 'is a national monument, an icon of America,' said Gerard Baker, the superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Monument. 'I don't want to put anything on those to deviate from what they mean. I will not make it commercial.'"
Proshade shot back that this just wasn't another shady deal to sell visors.
'Obviously there's a commercial angle, but there's another side to it,' Mr. Lawrence said. 'We wanted to do something that would give back to the system.'
While there are those that may see the proposal as 'crass and commercial,' Mr. Lawrence said he was truly trying to bring together a philanthropic and commercial effort.
'It's an interesting way of bringing the private sector together with the government to do some unique problem-solving about preservation of our precious national assets, benefiting both parties,' he said.
The government was right to turn down Proshade. I'm all for commercializing national landmarks if the money will help save them, like if Rushmore faced the same fate as the Old Man of the Mountain in New Hampshire. The end would justify the means. But Mount Rushmore doesn't need the cash. So why stoop if you don't have to?
But Proshade shouldn't be on the defensive for proposing the stunt either. Proshade is looking for ways to promote its product and offered a very generous sum to adorn Mount Rushmore with its visors. (The offer also reflects a growing trend among businesses to tie "giving" to promotion and sales. A competitive marketplace and tight budgets is forcing businesses--especially retailers--to look for an ROI on every dollar.)
Whether or not the stunt is "appropriate" for a national landmark is up to government officials, but offering $4 million for the opportunity doesn't make Proshade un-American. They're being creative, entrepreneurial, democratic and progressive. And if those aren't qualities we're proud to call American, I'll enlist in the Queen's army and change my name to John Wilkes Booth.