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

Benjamin Netanyahu in Oral History

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (C), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (R

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (C), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (R) in Houghton House at the Wye River Conference Center, during the Wye River Memorandum talks

Tomorrow, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before Congress.  We dug through our oral history transcripts to see what others said about the Israeli prime minister.

William Howard Taft: Court Entrepreneur and Reluctant President

Chief Justice Taft

Two presidents in our nation’s history have served their country in another branch after leaving the Oval Office: John Quincy Adams and William Taft.  Both of these men presided over less-than-successful terms in the White House, but repaired their legacies with their next jobs.  Taft, in particular, made his mark on history by elevating the prestige and authority of the Supreme Court.

Living the Vigorous Life

President Theodore Roosevelt

Are your New Year’s resolutions to exercise more already a distant memory? If so, Teddy Roosevelt would express concern about you and your civilization. As this post will show, Roosevelt philosophically tied the fitness of one’s own life to the health of a civilization and did his own part to live “vigorously.” 

ARTICLE: Impact Investing: Time to Unleash PRIs

Impact investing has been a hot topic in the news lately. On January 21, the White House hosted its third Pay for Success summit in Salt Lake City, Utah. Days later, New York Times columnist David Brooks lauded impact investing as the "most promising form" of social capitalism there is today. 

Jeff Chidester, the Miller Center's Director of Policy Programs, weighs in on the topic in his most recent article. He notes that philanthropic foundations are missing a massive opportunity in this space. They possess an overlooked capacity to tap into hundred of billions of dollars in unused capital. The chief vehicle would be program-related investments (PRIs), a tool that allows foundations to give working capital to organizations in the form of loans, loan guarantees, or equity investments.

Unfortunately, burdensome regulation and costs are constraining that ability. The most recent Milstein report addresses this point and how to fix it. 

Read the full editorial, as published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review here

Civil Rights Legend Julian Bond on “Selma”

Former NAACP National Chairman Julian Bond wants every American to see the film Selma, the dramatic film about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that was denied the Oscar for Best Picture last night, but the legendary civil rights figure says Selma has even more historical problems than its widely criticized treatment of former President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Garfield “The Education President”

James Garfield

James Garfield.  Courtesy of the Library of Congress

President Garfield's permanent mark on history seems to be his assassination.  It is also a case of lost opportunities.

ARTICLE: War Powers, The Constitution, and Bipartisanship

Miller Center Executive Director Bill Antholis and Director of Policy Programs had an op-ed appear both online and in the print version of Politico magazine today.

It traces the history of President Obama’s effort to gain Congressional authorization for military action against ISIL.  That effort was clearly shaped by the Miller Center’s National War Powers Commission.  

The Miller Center is particularly grateful for the generous support of Gene and Anne Fife, without which that Commission and report would not have happened.

ARTICLE: Can Startups Save the American Dream

In a recent article, AOL co-founder Steve Case posed the question: To what extent can startups increase jobs for the middle class?

He details the role that the Miller Center -- and his work with the Milstein Commission in particular -- helped him in his search for answers. Case goes on outline the report's conclusions and laud their merits. In his words, "entrepreneurs must again be at the heart of rebuilding the American economy."

Shall We Dance?

President Benjamin Harrison with Secretary of State James Blaine (second from left)

President Harrison on ship, possibly Sappho, with Sec. James G. Blaine (second from left) and Rep. Henry Cabot Lodge. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Since the early 1800s, the secretaries of state were front-runners for the presidency itself.  It was true for Benjamin Harrison, and it certainly could complicate a relationship.  His secretary of state was Senator James G. Blaine, and Blaine has been running for the presidency since 1876.

Did SNL Tarnish Gerald Ford’s Image?

Saturday Night Live celebrates its 40th anniversary tonight, and some of you may remember Chevy Chase's impersonation of a stumbling and falling President Gerald Ford. Did SNL tarnish Ford's image? Click read more for an excerpt from our essay on the 38th president.

Newly Transcribed Call: Nixon, LBJ Discuss Vietnam, Truman Memorial, LBJ’s “Heart Pains”

On this Presidents Day, listen to and read a newly transcribed conversation between a current president and a former president. On January 2, 1973, President Richard Nixon called former President Lyndon Johnson to ask if he planned to attend a public memorial service for President Harry Truman. The two also discussed Vietnam, football, and LBJ's "heart pains."

Click the play button to the right to listen to their conversation. Click read more for a complete transcript.

Rating our Presidents: Bad News for Pierce and Buchanan

Prominent 19th century historians Michael Holt and Gary Gallagher found themselves immersed in a spirited discussion of Presidential rankings during a Miller Center Historical Presidency event on the Presidencies of Pierce and Buchanan.  How did Pierce and Buchanan do?  Who is on the rise? Who is ranked too high? And do these rankings even matter? The clip is embedded here—or watch the full event video, "Sink Hole: How Kansas Crises Undid the Presidencies of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan."

A Match Not Made in Heaven

President Woodrow Wilson

On this Valentine’s Day, let’s look at a relationship that was anything but loving: Woodrow Wilson and the Republican-dominated Congress.  Wilson’s inability to overcome this mutual dislike led to his downfall and his plans for a lasting world peace.

Political Dynasties

George W. Bush and Family

In a recent Politico survey, many Republicans in Iowa see Jeb’s last name as a double-edge sword.  One has “anyone who doesn’t think it’s a net positive is ‘nuts’ but added, “Bush fatigue is a real issue.”

In 1966, Stephen Hess wrote about political dynasties throughout American history and has some interesting observations, even before the Bushes and Clintons came along.

ARTICLE: The Transportation Moment

It may be now or never for advocates of a comprehensive surface transportation package. 

The six-year, multi-billion dollar package discussed by President Obama in the State of the Union is gaining ground. Modified versions of his proposal are now being discussed on both sides of the aisle in both chambers of Congress and in gubernatorial offices across the country.

But with gas prices starting to rise and the need for reauthorization fast approaching, advocates will want to move quickly.

Full article here.