How much influence does fundraising for a president buy you? Apparently, not much. In September 2012, Frank Gehry joined Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Claes Oldenburg, and other prominent “Artists for Obama” in contributing to a portfolio that was presented to big donors and is estimated to have raised $4.2 million for the president’s re-election campaign. This week the White House announced the appointment of the president’s new representative on the commission that is overseeing the design and construction of the planned Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., which is being designed by Gehry The appointee is Bruce Cole, an art historian and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (under George W. Bush). Cole is also an outspoken critic of Gehry’s design. In The Weekly Standard, Cole called it “incoherent” and “unintelligible”; in the Washington Examiner, he went further, calling it “a cross between an amusement park and a golf course.” Cole advocates terminating Gehry’s contract and starting the memorial design process over, which is also the opinion of the National Civic Art Society, on whose board of advisors he serves. The NCAS has diligently stoked the public debate that has pitted conservatives–political and architectural–as well as members of the Eisenhower family, against supporters of Gehry’s design such as the American Institute of Architects, and several architecture critics (including the author). President Obama has not previously expressed any strong opinions on architecture (remember the bland redo of the Oval Office?), so his endorsement of the NCAS position comes as a surprise. Not least, I imagine, to Frank Gehry.