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

Remembering Julian Bond - by Phyllis Leffler

Julian Bond and Phyllis Leffler discussed their black leadership project in a recent episode of the Miller Center’s American Forum.

Julian Bond was a prince of a man—a leader of leaders.  I had the privilege of working with him for over fifteen years on the Explorations in Black Leadership project.  He was my collaborator and friend.

Julian was modest, supportive, generous, amenable.  His sense of human decency and his principled commitment to engage others and to listen meant that he was open to conversation with people across the political spectrum—from Clarence Thomas to Amiri Baraka, from Angela Davis to Armstrong Williams.  He had the oratorical skills to “speak truth to power”—a mantra he used often.  In those instances, he pulled no punches and he made no apologies for his strong words.  But those words were often necessary to make the larger point.  For decades, his was the urbane, polished, disciplined voice of America’s civil and human rights movements.

The Fascinating, yet Ominous, History of Ohio Presidents

President William McKinley

Yesterday, Republican presidential hopeful, Governor John Kasich, posted a photo to his campaign’s Facebook page which showed all of the presidents who came from Ohio and boasted that tomorrow’s first debate will take place in Ohio- the “mother of all presidents.” Kasich, as Governor of Ohio, was trying to draw positive connections to the past in order to boost his campaign, but this begs the question: is this the sort of connection he really wants to make?

Iran Nuclear Deal: Sharing the Burden

As Congress reviews the Iranian nuclear agreement, we are reminded of the March 2015 Republican letter on Iran and the reluctance of the Obama administration to consult Congress along the way to this agreement. Are these events symptoms of a break-down in bipartisanship? 

Iran in Oral History

Iran Hostage Crisis student demonstration, Washington, D.C. November 1979

Iran Hostage Crisis student demonstration, Washington, D.C. November 1979. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

With a deal now complete between Iran and six major powers to limit Iran's nuclear capability, it is important to reflect on our past.  In one important sense, the U.S. has made important strides in the fact we are actually talking with the country.  We mined our presidential oral histories to see what our interviewees were thinking about Iran:

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même Hillary meme?

Bill Clinton is fond of observing that if you believe more good came out of the 1960s than bad, you’re probably a progressive Democrat, but if you believe that the turbulent decade of the ’60s made our country worse, rather than better, you are most likely a conservative Republican.  A prophet is without honor in his own land, or so the Psalmist wrote. Thus, the perceived Sixties counter-culturalism of the Clintons made them seem out of step with Bill’s fellow Arkansans when he and future wife Hillary Rodham settled in Fayetteville at the dawn of the 1970s.

Former Arkansas Governor and Senator Dale Bumpers noted this disconnect in a just-released 2009 interview he gave to the Miller Center for the Bill Clinton Presidential Project. 

Miller Center’s Brian Balogh on Life-Changing Course He Took with Jeb Bush

Brian Balogh

In the early seventies, I was a student at Andover and took part in a course called Man and Society. There were 26 other students. One of them was Jeb Bush. I can’t speak for Jeb, but I know that this course changed my life and probably the lives of a number of other students.

PODCAST: Can Startups Save the American Dream?

The Miller Center's Lead Policy Analyst Tony Lucadamo recently went on local radio affiliate, WINA Morning News to discuss the recent Milstein Symposium report, Can Startups Save the American Dream? 

The podcast covers an array of topics including the ability of start-ups to improve the American middle class. The interview goes on to cover the merits the proposal that  a national K-12 entrepreneurship competition similar to a spelling bee be instituted. The idea was suggested in the Milstein report as a means of incentivizing students at the K-12 level to expand their use of creative thinking and to begin to think of entrepreneuship as a profession to which they can aspire rather than solely the domain of Silicon Valley.  

ARTICLE: Raising New Capital for Your Mission-Driven Startup

The Miller Center's Director of Policy Jeff Chidester co-authored an editorial with Village Capital CEO and Milstein commissioner Ross Baird in Forbes. The article spins off of the recent Miller Center report, Can Startups Save the American Dream? released as part of the Milstein Symposium: Ideas for a New American Century

The op-ed discusses the challenge that many social entrepreneurs face getting access to much-needed capital. As a remedy, Chidester and Baird tout the "hundreds of billions of dollars" available via Program Related Investments (PRIs). PRIs can be loans, loan guarantees, or equity investments that foundations can make to companies that share their mission.

To combat the underutilization of this too-often overlooked instrument, the authors list "four things you need to know in order to raise a PRI." The work serves as an education tool and ideally a blueprint for social entrepreneurs and impact investors. 

Fast Track: Absolutely Essential or Not Worth Trying to Get?

As the Senate considers whether to give President Obama fast-track trade authority, check out excerpts from our presidential oral history archives in which three former U.S. trade representatives reflect on the need for fast track.

Carla Hills, U.S. Trade Representative, George H.W. Bush Administration

“In fact what we’ve seen since 1974, when Fast Track or trade negotiating authority was first enacted and became absolutely essential—because we have moved away from simple tariffs to broader trade agreements is a decline in public support for trade. For the quarter century after World War II, we had near unanimous American support for open markets and economic interdependence. Since the 1980s public support has been in a gradual decline. Until finally Clinton didn’t feel that it was worth the political capital that he would have to spend to go for a renewal of Fast Track in 1994.

We were eight years without fast track, which really sidelined the United States. To secure fast track the current administration was faced with extortion. They had to succumb to the steel safeguard, the bloated Farm Bill, and to give lots of special approvals of restrictions on imports, which have been harmful to the overall economy. These efforts with specific groups were necessary in order to get the votes—and even then they only won fast track by a three-vote majority in the House. Of course they are living to regret some of the things that were put in the Andean Trade Bill and some restrictions that they had to impose that have really cost the country.”

ARTICLE: Red Tape Is Killing Startups - Here’s How To Fix It

The Miller Center's Lead Policy Analyst Tony Lucadamo teamed up wtih RocketHub CEO and previous Milstein Symposium commissioner Brian Meece to pen a recent Forbes editorial

The article tells the story of a Manhattan-based entrepreneur and his struggles navigating red tape, in particular managing his relationship with the USDA and the effect that has had on his young business. The piece goes on to suggest solutions for the business owner interviewed and others like him based on the Miller Center's recent production, Can Startups Save the American Dream?

ARTICLE: Beyond Silicon Valley

Lenny Mendonca, a commissioner from the Milstein Commission on Entreprepeneurship and Middle Class Jobs, and Laura Tyson, a former chair of the U.S. President's Council of Economic Advisers, referenced Miller Center work in a recent editorial published in Project Syndicate. 

The authors argue that we need to find ways to package the "entrepreneurial and innovative prowess" of Silicon Valley and transcribe it to Main Street America. One solution posited by the Miller Center to this issue, and reiterated by Mendonca and Tyson, is the ongoing need to find ways to make accessing capital easier for small businesses. There is a large pool of untapped and overlooked resources available to would be start-ups. A few examples are highlighted. 

1992 Los Angeles Riot

Soldiers of the California Army National Guard patrol the streets of Los Angeles, 1992

Soldiers of the California Army National Guard patrol the streets of Los Angeles, 1992

Today in 1992, four Los Angeles police officers were acquitted for using excessive force on Rodney King.  After the announcement, a riot erupted in the city that led to 53 dead, thousands arrested, and nearly $1 billion worth of property damage.

Ted Cruz: Half Governors & Half Senators

Senator Ted Cruz

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Thanks to a media inquiry, I did a little fact-checking on Senator Ted Cruz's comment at the First in the Nation summit:

"Here’s what history teaches us. About half of the presidents have been governors; half of them, senators. There have been good and bad presidents who were both."

Is he close?

ARTICLE: Teaching Tomorrow’s Founders: Ideas for K-12 Education

In an April 23rd Forbes piece, the Batten Institute's Gosia Glinska discussed the need for programs that increase the number of women working in technology -- focusing on one UVa grad who is working to make it happen. 

Glinska went on to pitch the merits of changing our national education system to be lest test-driven and more focused on creativity. The work partnered nicely with a similar message expoused in a previously referenced editorial by Darden's Raul Chao and the Miller Center's Cristina Lopez-Gattardi Chao. A similar topic was also discussed in the Milstein Commission's most recent report, Can Startups Save the American Dream?

Glinska's full article is available here

Richard Nixon: Do Not Disturb

Five presidents and their first ladies attend the funeral of Richard Nixon. From left, President and Mrs. Clinton, President and

Five presidents and their first ladies attend the funeral of Richard Nixon. From left, President and Mrs. Clinton, President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush, President and Mrs. Reagan, President and Mrs. Carter, President and Mrs. Ford.

This week in 1994, Richard Nixon died and was buried at the Nixon Library in California.  It is well known that Nixon wanted to isolate himself as much as possible, so he could focus on more important matters, so his chief of staff, H.R. Halderman, become quite powerful.  We see this isolation in our presidential oral histories as the participants reflect back in time: