Miller Center

Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

Economic Effects on Immigration

The Bracero Program

In 1942, the first Mexican workers arrive in Los Angeles, California, as part of the Bracero Program.

Today the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Arizona’s S.B. 1070 law, which allows local police to inquire about the immigration status of people—stopped for any reason—whom they suspect are in the country illegally. One of the core issues at the heart of the Supreme Court decision is which level of government should address immigration policy. In a post for Riding the Tiger earlier this week, Anna O. Law provided historical context to the debate over who should control immigration policy.

S.B. 1070 and other state laws also raise important questions regarding the link between the economy and immigration. Historically, debates over national immigration policy have included two arguments. The first is the claim that immigrants do work that Americans do not want to do. On the other hand is the concern that illegal immigrants take jobs away from Americans.

“These People are Taking Our Jobs”

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As the Supreme Court gears up to hear the Arizona immigration case, take a trip back to 1964 as President Lyndon Johnson discusses the Bracero Agreement, a controversial work program for Mexican farm laborers.

In this clip, President Johnson calls James Farmer, a vocal opponent of the program, to relay his conversation with President Adolfo Lopez Mateos of Mexico about ending the Bracero Agreement. Farmer had long been concerned that the program was taking jobs from American workers, and in this recording LBJ notes that Lopez Mateos did not object to ending the program. As hinted by LBJ in this recording, the labor arrangement did not last much longer into 1964.

Immigration Policy: Whose Line Is it Anyway?

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer meeting with President Barack Obama in June 2010 .

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer with President Obama, discussing immigration and border security issues in the wake of SB1070.

Today's guest post is from Anna O. Law, associate professor of political science at DePaul University and the author of The Immigration Battle in American Courts (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

The Supreme Court will this week hear oral argument in a case about Arizona's controversial immigration law, S.B. 1070. While the national debate over immigration has become reduced to campaign trail sound bites and a general holding pattern within the Obama Administration, the Supreme Court has the potential with this ruling in the Arizona case to make an important contribution in improving immigration policy.

Friday Feature: President Obama Not Riding a Tiger

President Obama rides a mountain bike on a paved path with greenery behind.

President Obama rides a bicycle alongside his daughter Malia (not pictured) in 2011. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

 President Obama is known to periodically ride his bicycle in Washington parks alongside his family. But before POTUS can roll through, the route is scanned by trucks of secret service agents and staff on bikes. Read more here.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight a whimsical item from presidential history.

Nicole Hemmer on NYT Opinion Pages

Former Miller Center Fellow and Riding the Tiger contributor Nicole Hemmer has published an op-ed on the New York Times' Campaign Stops website, "The Boys Who Cried Fox." Check out her piece on Mitt's similarities to his father George Romney on our blog here.

Romney and Conservatism

Romney on a campaign stop in Philadelphia in April.

Romney on a campaign stop in Philadelphia organized by the Tea Party on April 17.

Today we welcome a post from Verlan Lewis, a Ph.D. candidate in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. His recent work has focused on American political parties, thought, and development.

With the Republican presidential nomination contest all sewn up, it is time to give historical perspective—as the Miller Center often does—to the process that has delivered Mitt Romney the nomination of the Republican Party. I will attempt to do so in two parts: one with a relatively long, and another with a relatively short, view of history. First, I will show how 72 years of GOP presidential nominations (19 contests) make it very unsurprising that Romney has won the nomination. Second, I will show how four years of GOP presidential nominations (two contests) actually raises doubts about the conventional wisdom that Romney’s stances on the issues are uniquely inconsistent or “un-conservative” among the Republican candidates.

Who is ‘The Real Romney’?

Miller Center Forum: The Real Romney

One of the most established findings in political science is that an incumbent’s record is central to the public’s judgment in a campaign for reelection. But what about challengers? A challenger’s campaign is more about the promises the candidate makes and their personality. Now that Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, journalists, scholars, pundits and citizens alike are seeking to delve even deeper into his seemingly impenetrable background and qualifications in order to evaluate his ability to be president. Last month, the Miller Center hosted a Forum with Boston Globe investigative reporter Michael Kranish, who recently co-authored a new biography on Mitt called The Real Romney. For those of you who weren’t able to attend the Forum, we’ve put together some highlights.

Education and the 2012 Election

Department of Education, 2006

Department of Education in 2006. Photo by M. V. Jantzen.

Today's guest post is from Christopher P. Loss, assistant professor of public policy and higher education at Vanderbilt University, and former Miller Center National Fellow. This piece originally appeared on the Princeton University Press Election 101 blog.

It’s Tax Day!

President Obama and Warren Buffett

President Obama and Warren Buffett

Today is the IRS tax filing deadline for 2011. Be sure to get your taxes submitted today. 

Throughout history, presidents have been involved in setting tax policy and then trying to sell their plan to the public. Recently President Obama has been touting the benefits of the Buffett Rule, which would raise taxes on people earning more than $1 million a year. As CNN acknowledged, the Buffett Rule has little chance of moving forward in the U.S. Senate, but Bloomberg Businessweek's Joshua Green argues that it might be more powerful as a political message than as actual legislation. 

Presidents and Tax Policy: The Politics of Persuasion is a Miller Center exhibit that looks at various snapshots of presidential tax policy drawing on a wide array of its resources, including presidential speeches, forums, presidential recordings, and oral histories.

More than ‘Warm Spit’: Why VEEP Selection Matters

John Nance Garner, 32nd Vice President of the United States

John Nance Garner, 32nd Vice President of the United States

When it comes to vice presidential nominations, the scholars, journalists, and politicians who know and care the most about the subject know that people vote for president and not vice president. This knowledge is inconvenient. If it doesn’t really matter who the nominees for vice president are, then how can we justify all the time we’re about to spend obsessing over who Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate?

Friday Feature: President Wilson Not Riding a Tiger

President Wilson, in formal attire, rides in the back of a carriage with his wife by his side.

March 5th, 1917 (Library of Congress)

Woodrow Wilson and his wife, Edith Wilson, ride to President Wilson's second inauguration.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight a whimsical item from presidential history.

Let the Veepstakes Begin

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With Rick Santorum’s announcement that he will halt his campaign, leaving Mitt Romney the presumed Republican presidential nominee, it’s time to start playing one of everyone’s favorite election season parlor games – the VEEPstakes.

Santorum Suspends Campaign

Rick Santorum in March 2012

Rick Santorum at the US Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama, in March 2012. Photo by Holley St. Germain.

Clearing the way for Mitt Romney as the GOP nominee to face President Barack Obama in the general election, Rick Santorum suspended his campaign today, saying that "while the presidential race for us is over... we are not done fighting."

His decision comes after the weekend hospitalization of his daughter Isabella, who was born with Trisomy 18, and amidst a dwindling single digit lead in polling in his home state of Pennsylvania.

Friday Feature: President Teddy Roosevelt Not Riding a Tiger

Teddy Roosevelt rides a camel

President Teddy Roosevelt on a camel, 1910.

In addition to being the 26th President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt was a famed explorer, naturalist, and outdoorsman. He is seen here riding a camel during a visit to Egypt. 

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight a whimsical item from presidential history.

Breaking the (Nuclear) Cycle: The Diplomatic Dance with a ‘Soprano State’

The Yongbyon Nuclear Center in the DPRK.

Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford physicist, examines machinery removed from the disabled Yongbyon Nuclear Center in 2008.

During his trip to Seoul for the Nuclear Security Summit last month, President Obama visited the Demilitarized Zone that marks the border between North and South Korea. That visit, coupled with the satellite/missile launch that Pyongyang has planned for mid-April, highlights the fact that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) remains one of the most intractable challenges facing American foreign policy. It will remain so regardless of whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins the election in November.