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

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:

Chidester & Lucadamo: USTR’s Say President Must Have Trade Promotion Authority

In a recent editorial, the Miller Center's Director of Policy Jeff Chidester and Lead Policy Analyst Tony Lucadamo shined the spotlight on an oft overlooked viewpoint in the growing trade debate. 

A series of U.S. Trade Reprentatives past and present have gone on record in numerous Miller Center interviews saying that a president must have Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) if he or she is to pass any significant trade deal. Chidester and Lucadamo supported the premise, using historical case studies and contemporary realities as evidence. 

The article, published in the Hill, comes in the wake of a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill. President Obama called for TPA in his State of the Union Address. And the Senate introduced a bipartisan bill attempting to comply on Thursday, April 16th. 

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 showdown between the Obama administration and Congress coming soon on the Iran nuclear agreement, it is important to reflect on our recent past about Iran.  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 on Iran:

Is Immigrant Regularization Really that Bad for the GOP?

Miller Center Faculty Associate and Chair of Politcs at UVA David Leblang and Lead Policy Analyst Tony Lucadamo recently released an editorial in the Hill. 

The work questions the conventional wisdom that regularizing the undocumented immigrant population in the United States would necessarily hurt the Republican Party at the polls. As evidence, Leblang and Lucadamo cite the naturalization of 3 million immigrants carried out Presidents Reagan and later H.W. Bush. Following a major bill in the former case and executive order in the latter, Republicans did not see major losses at the polls. With adroit policymaking, may not have to suffer the major political losses that they anticipate if history repeats itself in the 21st century. 

President Grant: A Case of Misfortune?

The Room in the McLean House

The Room in the McLean House. Courtesy of Library of Congress

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the surrender of General Lee's forces to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox.  Grant became one of the nation's biggest war heroes.  Yet his success on the battlefield did not necessarily translate so well to the White House. 

The Fitzgerald Side of the Kennedy Family Is Alive and Well

The Miller Center’s Barbara Perry (center) met Senators Elizabeth Warren (left) and Debbie Stabenow (right)

The Miller Center’s Barbara Perry (center) met Senators Elizabeth Warren (left) and Debbie Stabenow (right) at the opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate. They are standing in a full-scale model of the U.S. Senate, housed at the institute.

Attending the recent Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate dedication in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, where Rose Fitzgerald attended high school, lived with her irrepressible father John F. (Honey Fitz) Fitzgerald, gave birth to her youngest son, and broke ground for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, I was struck by the distaff influence evident throughout the celebratory event.

After Ferguson: What Should We Be Talking About?

Can there be constructive dialogue on race? A special series begins on American Forum.

The paradox is inescapable: at the same time our country celebrates the 50th anniversary of the laws that finally ended segregation and guaranteed voting rights to all citizens, we are also embroiled in one of the most furious debates over race in a generation.

ARTICLE: How America’s Education Model Kills Creativity and Entrepreneurship

The Miller Center's Cristina Lopez-Gattardi Chao and the Darden School of Business' Raul Chao discussed the impact our current K-12 system is having on creativity and entrepreneurship levels in a recent Forbes piece

They argue that in today's job market, creativity is a critical skill, one which we are not doing enough to foster. And much of this boils down to curricula that stigmatizes risk taking and failure. 

In the piece, they cite the Miller Center's recent Milstein Symposium reportCan Startups Save the American Dream? and lauds some of the ideas advanced as a step in the right direction on this important matter. 

Not Bluffing with SDI

 President Reagan Speaking on SDI March 23, 1983 Source: National Archives

President Reagan Speaking on SDI March 23, 1983 Source: National Archives

On this day in history in 1983, Ronald Reagan unveiled SDI or "Star Wars"  in a speech to the nation.

In his oral history interview, Director of the U.S. Information Agency Charles Wick recounts a conversation he had with the president on SDI:

Bill Clinton’s First Email?

President Bill Clinton installing computer cables with Vice President Al Gore on NetDay at Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord

President Bill Clinton installing computer cables with Vice President Al Gore on NetDay at Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord, CA. March 9, 1996.

In our Bill Clinton Presidential Project, John Gibbons, assistant to the president for science and technology, describes helping President Clinton draft his first email:

Reagan Oral History: Evil Empire Speech

Photograph of President Reagan addressing the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals

Photograph of President Reagan addressing the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals. Courtesy of NARA.

On March 8, 1983, President Ronald Reagan gave his famous "Evil Empire" speech to the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida.  

The Miller Center interviewed some key figures in the Reagan Administration from our Ronald Reagan Oral History Project who talked about this speech.

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

On Tuesday, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before Congress.  We scoured recently released Presidential Oral Histories, produced here at the Miller Center, to see how members of previous administrations have described 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.