George W. Bush photo

Remarks at the Swearing-In Ceremony for Howard H. Baker, Jr., as Ambassador to Japan

June 26, 2001

Senator Baker, you've drawn quite a crowd here to the White House. [Laughter] Mr. Vice President; Mr. Secretary; CIA Director George Tenet, I believe, is here. Justice O'Connor is here. Thank you so much for coming. The Ambassador from Japan is here. Thank you very much for being here, Mr. Ambassador, and your lovely wife. Madeleine Albright, I believe, is here—Madam Secretary. Larry Eagleburger is here. Elizabeth Dole, I believe, is here. Senator, Elizabeth, thank you very much. The former Ambassadors to the country of Japan are on the stage with us; they have been introduced. Members of the United States Senate are here. Members of the Tennessee congressional delegation are here.

Thank you all for coming, and welcome. Today we call upon one of America's most valued statesmen to help be the keeper of one of America's most valued friendships. Howard Baker has held many titles during the course of his long and distinguished career. They include sailor, Senator, minority leader, majority leader, and White House Chief of Staff. In a few moments he'll add Ambassador to that list, and once again, America is very grateful.

All the former Ambassadors here are living examples of the very highest standards of diplomatic excellence. And between them, Mike Mansfield, Walter Mondale, Tom Foley, and Howard Baker have accumulated over 100 years of elected office. [Laughter] That's a lot of balloon drops. [Laughter]

Thirty-four of those years are accounted for by Mike Mansfield alone. The Senator began the tradition of high-level political figures serving as our Ambassador to Japan. He held that post for more than 11 years, longer than anyone else. Japanese press calls these figures o-mono—the big guys. [Laughter] Well, we're all very honored to have the original big guy with us.

And by the way, Senator Thurmond, he informed me—with quite clear language— that he is 4 months younger than you are. [Laughter]

We send the very best people to Japan because the United States has no more important partner in the world than Japan. Our alliance is rooted in the vital strategic and economic interests that we share. It is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in Asia. Today, this partnership is helping us tackle global problems, as well.

I'm looking forward to welcoming the Prime Minister this weekend at Camp David. Together, we will explore ways we can continue to strengthen our security relationship. We will talk about the Prime Minister's agenda for reforming and revitalizing the Japanese economy. We'll discuss how our countries can work together on realistic and effective responses to global problems such as AIDS in Africa and climate change.

I will also tell the Prime Minister that America's 38th Ambassador to Japan is a man of extraordinary ability, grace, and good humor. In every post he has held, Howard Baker has brought uncommon intelligence and an uncanny ability to calm the ship of state, even in days of crisis.

He comes from good stock. His grandmother, Lillie "Mother Ladd" Mauser— [laughter]—was Tennessee's first woman sheriff. [Laughter] His father and his stepmother both served in the House. He married into good stock, as well. He counts Senator Everett Dirksen and the grand old man of the Grand Old Party, Alf Landon, as fathers-in-law. And what the Prime Minister is going to find out, he took an extraordinary woman as a bride in Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker.

In the Senate, Howard Baker had a list of rules for being an effective Senator. He called it the Baker's Dozen. The list included: listen more often than you speak; be patient; tell the truth, whether you have to or not; and finally, be civil and encourage others to do the same.

Well, these rules help explain why Howard Baker has made such a mark on American history. They are why he's going to keep making his mark for the years to come.


NOTE: The President spoke at 2:48 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Shunji Yanai, Japanese Ambassador to the United States, and his wife, Toshiko; former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright; former Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger; former Senator Bob Dole and his wife, former Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole; and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Ambassador Baker.

George W. Bush, Remarks at the Swearing-In Ceremony for Howard H. Baker, Jr., as Ambassador to Japan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives