Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the Swearing-In Ceremony for George P. Shultz as Secretary of State

July 16, 1982

The President. Ladies and gentlemen, please. Today, I'm reminded of the old saying, "Let George do it." [Laughter] And, George, from now on, I think I'll have a few things for you to do.

On behalf of the American people, I want to compliment the Senate for its wisdom in approving so rapidly and decisively the nomination of George Shultz as our next Secretary of State. The Senate's swift action augurs well for continued cooperation between the Congress and the executive branch and for strong leadership at the State Department.

I also want to compliment George Shultz on his impressive performance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His articulate and convincing presentation sent a strong signal to friend and foe alike. Our country is fortunate to have a man of exceptional character and qualifications for this vital position.

America's always been blessed in times such as these with citizens of stature who come forward to make certain the job gets done and done right. George Shultz follows in that tradition. He has served three previous Presidents. He has been immensely successful in his endeavors in the private sector, and he's highly respected for his academic achievements. Those who know him testify that he's a man with character and common sense, affable, yet decisive. He's a man who inspires confidence and leaves no doubt that he's capable of the vital task that we're giving him.

Of all the responsibilities of the Presidency, shaping American foreign policy is the most awesome. It's in this arena that we come to grips with the decisions which most directly affect the delicate balance of peace and which secure both the immediate and long-term well-being of the United States.

When looking for the best, sometimes one finds that the paths of talented men cross. Recently, George, there's been some criticism of your similar background to another member of my Cabinet. Now, I admit we may be dipping from the same well to find quality people. I just want everyone to know that I'm fully aware that George and Don Regan, as well as many other high-ranking members of my administration, are all former Marines. [Laughter] And I don't find that a handicap in any way. [Laughter]

Seriously, George's background gives him a unique opportunity to be of service to his country. Over the last few years in the private sector leading one of the giants of American enterprise, he has first-hand knowledge of the dynamics of economic progress. He brings with him perhaps a deeper understanding of world economics than any previous Secretary of State, having dealt internationally with leaders of commerce as well as heads of state. This experience will, I have no doubt, add depth and meaning to the decisions that he'll be making. I look forward to his counsel.

And with all of that said, George, welcome to the team.

[At this point, Attorney General William French Smith administered the oath of office to Mr. Shultz.]

Secretary Shultz. Thank you very much. Mr. President, I thank you. You have done me a great honor, and I recognize fully the responsibilities placed upon me. I said in my statement to the Committee on Foreign Relations that I would muster every ounce of energy and intelligence and dedication I could and pour all of it into performance on this job, and I restate that and remake that pledge to you on this occasion, Mr. President.

In the period of time that I've been preparing for this job and preparing for my examination by the Committee on Foreign Relations, of course I've been impressed with the importance and depth and difficulty of the problems that we face. But also, Mr. President, as you so characteristically do, I think it's essential that we take that coin that has "problems" as its label on one side and turn it over and see that on the other side is the word "opportunities." And I certainly want to approach this task fully conscious and realistic about the problems, but even more, conscious of the opportunities which with creative and constructive effort we may be able to do something wonderful with. I say that with some confidence here, because I am with friends. And I feel the warmth of this gathering and that ' it's a family affair, and it gives me a certain sense of both humility but also a sense of support.

And in that regard I would like to thank especially the Members of the Congress, the Members of the Senate who, gave me such a thorough working-over and examination-and, I think, in a very constructive way and thorough way—and in the end voted promptly and decisively to confirm me as Secretary of State. And I appreciate that, and I recognize it as a kind of marker that we should approach these things together and in the spirit of bipartisanship and in trying to find the broad consensus that sustains our policies abroad and has done so for so many decades.

Mr. President, in your Inaugural Address you said that no arsenal, no weapon in the world "is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women." I think, as you often do, you put succinctly the essence of the matter, and I say to you that I will take these words of yours as my touchstone and foundation as I approach the conduct of this great office.

I thank you very much, Mr. President, and my friends.

Note: The President spoke at 10 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Swearing-In Ceremony for George P. Shultz as Secretary of State Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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