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

Nixon, Chief of Staff Discuss Trick-or-Treating at the White House

Tricia Nixon at a White House Halloween carnival in 1969

During an Oct. 20, 1972, meeting with his chief of staff, H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, President Nixon discussed Tricia Nixon Cox's idea to allow children to trick-or-treat at the White House. Below is a transcript of their conversation.

President NixonTricia [Nixon Cox] had an idea last night that I thought would be rather cute. [Unclear], you know, we always do something for Halloween. We had a Halloween party one [unclear]. She said she was thinking that, we can [unclear] trick-or-treat at the White House. [Unclear.] [Unclear] about that. Now, the point that I made is that--the point that I made is we really wanted to do this somehow to get a very, very warm story about how much we enjoy this sort of thing. See? 

VIDEO + PHOTOS: Milstein Infrastructure and Middle-Class Jobs Commission Meeting

Milstein Infrastructure Commission members

Listen to Milstein Commission on Infrastructure and Middle-Class Jobs members -- who represent some of the top thinkers on the critical needs of the nation's infrastructure -- discuss the issues at hand, as well as proposed solutions.  Short interview clips can be found here. Photos from the meeting are available here

Book Review: The End of Greatness

The End of Greatness by Aaron David Miller

In his book The End of Greatness, Aaron David Miller has developed a successful synthesis of the presidential greatness literature on why we don’t see great presidents anymore, yet we still demand one every presidential election cycle. This work should be very useful to students and to the general public as a way to discuss important questions about presidential greatness and seemingly unrealistic voter expectations. 

Ray LaHood, Antonio Villaraigosa to Co-Chair Commission on Infrastructure and Middle-Class Jobs

Co-Chairs LaHood and Villaraigosa

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will co-chair a new University of Virginia Miller Center commission charged with developing innovative, bipartisan ideas on how to create and sustain middle-class jobs through infrastructure policy. Read the media advisory here

ARTICLE: ‘Made in America, Again”

Misltein Commission on New Manufacturing member James Fallows references the commission report in The Atlantic, stating that "The Miller Center report, 'Building a Nation of Makers,' is mainly about practical steps that might let start-ups and small companies take advantage of global trends. For instance, mapping now-opaque manufacturing supply chains could help connect smaller companies with potential customers. Because they are so practical, ideas like these don’t figure into normal political debate. But their very practicality increases their chances of paying off."

ARTICLE: “Making the SF Case for a Second Stimulus”

Milstein Commission on New Manufacturing member Kate Sofis and Miller Center lead policy analyst Tony Lucadamo recommend the return of programs that offer low-interest, fixed-rate loans that manufacturing SMEs can use for hiring new workers in a San Francisco Business Times opinion piece.

“They’d Impeach a President”

LBJ with Senator Richard Russell

This clip, presented to the Nantucket Project this weekend, features LBJ and Senator Richard Russell as they consider the risks and politics of escalation in Vietnam. The full recording (27 minutes) is available here, a curated exhibit (4 minutes) is here.

The Presidential Recordings Program was established by the Miller Center in 1998 to make the secret White House recordings accessible through transcripts and historical research. These recordings constitute an extremely rich historical resource, but one that cannot be unlocked without considerable time and experience in working with the tapes. Once unlocked, the tapes shed considerable light on our understanding of recent political history and on the workings of the U.S. government. Thousands of hours of this secret history remain to be transcribed, annotated, and analyzed within the constraints of limited resources.

Book Review: Unreasonable Men

Unreasonable Men by Michael Wolraich

Michael Wolraich's Unreasonable Men is an immensely readable account of the Republican Party's split leading up to the 1912 presidential election.

LBJ Tapes Capture Echoes of Ferguson

President Lyndon B. Johnson (seated behind desk) discussing 1967 Detroit crisis with L-R: Joe Califano, Sec. Robert McNamara, Sec. Of the Army Stanley Resor (obscured), Sec. Ramsey Clark, George Christian, Justice Abe Fortas, Marvin Watson (back to camera).

The shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police and the militarized police response to protestors angry over Brown’s death has brought the issue of police brutality to the forefront of national attention. It has also raised echoes of the urban rebellions of the 1960s. Although more than four decades separate these events, the issues involved are in many respects the same. The White House recordings of Lyndon Johnson capture one small aspect of such connections, raising questions about the extent to which the core racial challenges of the 1960s have truly been transcended today.

POTUS at Play

As President Obama catches some R&R on Martha’s Vineyard, a pictorial montage of 20th century presidents at play reveals how some of his predecessors enjoyed their down time.  It also provides a glimpse of how presidential sports create images of White House occupants.  

Book Review: The Invisible Bridge

The Invisibile Bridge by Rick Perlstein

Rick Perlstein’s The Invisible Bridge is the third in his series examining the political landscape starting with Barry Goldwater’s presidential run in 1964.  In this installment, Perlstein traces the years from 1973-1976 when Nixon resigned and Reagan ran against Gerald Ford for president.  It was a time of growing pessimism as angry citizens complained about the disgrace of politics and government, and this pessimism also affected how Americans saw their own country.

Third Milstein Symposium to Focus on Infrastructure and the Middle Class

This symposium, the third in a series focusing on creating the jobs of the future, will convene experts to identify a sufficient and sustainable infrastructure funding model to keep goods and people moving safely and efficiently and to support the projects required to keep the system functioning optimally.

Long-Term Fix for Highway Trust Fund

Now that Congress has approved a short-term fix for the Highway Trust Fund, there's much talk about the need for a long-term fix. A University of Virginia Miller Center report, co-chaired by former U.S. Transportation Secretaries Norman Mineta and Samuel Skinner, proposes one. The report concludes that future funding mechanisms should not depend primarily on fossil-fuel consumption and suggests that the best approach to ensure adequate funding is to return to a pay-as-you-go system. This means taxing road use, instead of fuel consumption, via a vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) tax. An excerpt from Well Within Reach: America's New Transportation Agenda is below. You can read the entire report at http://web1.millercenter.org/conferences/report/conf_2009_transportation.pdf.

What if Jackie Kennedy Had Lived to Celebrate Her 85th Birthday?

Alternative histories are intriguing, but, until recently, I thought they were simply entertaining fictionalized accounts of historical events. Journalist Jeff Greenfield’s Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternative Histories of American Politics is among the best of this genre.  (See Greenfield’s Miller Center forum at http://bit.ly/UFHfmC.)

Academic historians, however, occasionally use counterfactuals to determine the relationships between cause and effect. For example, if Al Gore had won the 2000 presidential election, would the United States have invaded Iraq in 2003? (See Miller Center event with Frank P. Harvey, author of Explaining the Iraq War: Counterfactual Theory, Logic and Evidence at http://bit.ly/1lMQqc8.)

As First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s birthday (July 28, 1929) approached, I began to ponder what she would be like today had she not succumbed to lymphoma in 1994. She is frozen in many memories as the glamorous wife of President John F. Kennedy, only 31 years of age when she entered the White House, or as his stoic widow creating the Camelot legend after his assassination a thousand days later. But what if Jackie Kennedy had lived to celebrate her 85th birthday? 

Reagan Officials Reflect on KAL 007

With the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, many are recalling KAL 007, the Korean passenger plane that the Soviets shot down on Sept. 1, 1983 after it strayed off course and flew into Soviet territory. 269 people were killed. President Reagan addressed the nation on Sept. 5, saying, "This crime against humanity must never be forgotten, here or throughout the world." You can watch his remarks at http://bit.ly/1p2dHKV.

Administration officals reflected on KAL 007 in interviews for Reagan's oral history. Click read more for excerpts.