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Swearing-In Ceremony for Members of the Cabinet Remarks at the Ceremony.

January 23, 1977

We decided to forgo the "Ruffles and Flourishes" and "Hail to the Chief."

It is really a great pleasure for me to be here this afternoon on the first official and completely open ceremony to the press, to take a great step forward in what I hope will be a good administration for the American people. And that is a swearing in of a superb group of Cabinet officers and other leaders of our Nation.

My first very gratifying experience after I was nominated to be the Democratic candidate for President was to introduce to the country my choice for Vice President, Walter Mondale, and we set a standard of excellence there that I hope to maintain throughout my own administration. It would be hard to equal what Fritz Mondale has meant to me, but I believe I will be equally close to the Cabinet members and other leaders that will be sworn in this afternoon.

I want to thank the Congress for their close cooperation so far. We don't have a complete entourage this afternoon to accept the oath. I have always heard about the advise and consent role of the Congress-so far they have been a little stronger on the advice than they have on the consent. We will have three or four delayed ceremonies. I hope that there will be a very rapid move though toward completing our leadership group.

This afternoon, I would like to welcome in particular the friends and neighbors and relatives of those who will share with me the responsibility for the top leadership positions. I thank you for coining to the White House.

I am very grateful to welcome to the stage as the first person a very fine and wonderful leader who has been an inspiration to the American people, Chief Justice Warren Burger.

And now, in order of seniority in the Cabinet and other leadership posts, I would like to welcome first of all Cyrus Vance, who is coming with his wife, Grace. Cy and I have spent a lot of time together in the last couple of years. I guess of all the Cabinet members who were recommended to me, he had closest to the most unanimous recommendation, and I am very grateful that Cy has come. Cy Vance as Secretary of State.

Next is the Secretary of the Treasury, who attended with Cy Vance and myself, yesterday morning, our first National Security Council meeting, Mike Blumenthal and Eileen. Mike has been the president of Bendix. He was not born in this country, but he came here as a young man via China, and he has risen to the top ranks of executive leadership because of his qualities. He is going to be the one to make sure we stay on a sound basis in making decisions on economics and finance. Mike, thank you very much.

The next man who has been strongly recommended, both for the position he will hold and also as a chief scientific adviser for the President--he is a man who has had exceptional leadership background as Secretary of the Air Force. He has just recently been a president of one of the finest technical schools in the country, I guess, second only to Georgia Tech, the California Institute of Technology. And I would like to ask Harold Brown to come forward with his wife, Colene. He will be Secretary of Defense.

I asked Harold to give me some recommendations on scientific adviser, by the way, and he gave me five recommendations, all of them physicists. He is going to be my physics adviser, and I am going to get someone else, I think, to help me in the other position.

Next, I guess of all the Cabinet members he is the one who has been closest to me in the past. He is a man whom I met at the beginning when I was elected Governor. We were elected at the same time. I have to say that he is the only Cabinet member I never had to hesitate at all about. He will be the next Secretary of the Interior. Cecil Andrus and his wife, Carol.

Although I feel close to all of them, I think the next one is the one with whom I have the deepest sense of mutual sympathy. He makes his living with a 600-acre farm. He has been the Member of Congress who serves furthest north in our country except for those who are from Alaska. He is a man who has worked hard all his life, manual labor. He knows the problems of the consumers in a very intimate way. He is from a great State that produced the Vice President. And it is Bob Bergland from Minnesota, and his wife, Helen.

As Secretary of Agriculture, he will do a superb job, and I am very grateful to him for being willing to serve.

The next will be Secretary of Commerce. This is a position that, as you know, has far-reaching effect on our own business community, our free enterprise system, and consumers. It also has a profound impact on the quality of our metropolitan areas.

When Fritz Mondale was preparing yesterday morning, with the National Security Council meeting, to make his foray throughout the world on trade, this Secretary of Commerce was at the National Security Council meeting. This is a Cabinet officer whom I have already grown to love, and she and I had a very close and very friendly relationship when I first met her to interview her for this job. I believe she is the first woman who ever attended a National Security Council meeting as a full participant. And I am very grateful that she has been willing to leave the vice presidency of Duke University to come and be Secretary of Commerce. Juanita Kreps, and her husband, Clifton.

The next Secretary that I would like to introduce is one who has shown herself to be a very strong, able business executive. She is a superb attorney. She has been in the forefront of carving out a proper role for minority groups and for women, but all of her achievements have been made because of her own superb qualities. I feel very close to her, too, and am very grateful that Patricia Harris has decided to become our Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. She has come here with her husband, William. Patricia Harris.

The next man has been in the Congress in one of the most responsible positions there as chairman of the Budget Committee. And he was instrumental in evolving within the Congress a much more sound and businesslike way to handle budget and appropriations questions. When I met for the first time with the present Speaker of the House, I drove to the Capitol with him, and as we approached, he said that he had been in Congress more than 25 years and the best Congressman he had ever known in his life was Brock Adams. And I am very grateful to Brock Adams, a very close friend of mine, for being Secretary of Transportation. Brock Adams and his wife, Elizabeth.

The next appointee whom I will introduce has been either blessed or afflicted by having served with me 4 years in the past when I was Governor of Georgia. He is being appointed to a Cabinet double post, in spite of the fact he comes from my own home State. And I am sure he will do a superb job in one of the most difficult positions within the Federal Government as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He follows in the footsteps of several former Cabinet members who were promoted, in effect, into this extremely challenging job. And I am very grateful that my good friend, one of the closest friends I have in the world, Bert Lance, is going to take on that responsible position with his beautiful wife, La Belle.

The next person that I would like to introduce has already presented me with my first challenge and also with a partial response to it. Our Nation is perhaps the only developed nation in the world that doesn't have a comprehensive policy on energy.

It is a challenge to the American people that has for a long time been almost in a crisis stage, and the undetected nature of this crisis is rapidly growing more important to us all. And the frank facing of this challenge required, in my opinion, someone with superlative credentials, someone who is strong and aggressive, someone with a mind of his own, someone with a good background in both budget matters or energy matters, defense matters, and in the academic field.

I first met James Schlesinger when he had just returned from a trip to the Far East, to China. He helped me as I prepared for my second debate with President Ford. We formed an almost instant personal friendship. And I believe that his own stature as a leader will impress upon the consciousness of America the importance that we do attach to the challenge of the energy problem.

James Schlesinger will work very, closely with me within the White House as an assistant. He will be in charge of energy policy, and I hope that we can create without much delay a new energy department, at which time he will be head of that department.

James, I am thankful to you and hope you will come up now with your wife, Rachel.

The next man who I would like to introduce to you was selected for a Cabinet level position in spite of the fact he is from Washington, D.C. And we have come to know each other over the last couple of years. As I have seen him on numerous occasions take a very complicated, very confusing, very combative discussion about economics and summarize in very clear terms the basic questions to be decided and give a practical answer to complicated questions. He is a man with whom I have a very close friendship already, and he will help our country to resolve one of its greatest challenges, and that is in economics where we can hold down inflation, put our people back to work, and at the same time give American people confidence in the tremendous strength that our Nation has.

I would like to ask now Charles Schultze to come forward with his wife, Rita.

Dr. Schultze will be the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and within the White House environment he will be my closest person in shaping basic economic policy.

The last person I would like to introduce to the audience and to the Nation is the one who, among all others, has helped me most to learn about foreign policy. He has written 8 or 10 books himself. He has been an incisive analyst of the international field. He will be my closest adviser in tying together our economics, foreign policy, and also defense matters. He will be my adviser for the National Security Council. He will put together the most intimate preparations for any kind of crisis that affects our Nation.

He is one who has caused a great deal of consternation already among the typesetters of our country. [Laughter] I would like to introduce to you Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose name I can spell and all my staff are now learning how, and I am very proud of Dr. Brzezinski and his wife, Muska.

Before Chief Justice Burger administers the oath of .office to all these fine leaders, I would like to say that I made a commitment to the American people that I intend to honor. In fact, I intend to honor all my commitments. But one was to turn over the responsibilities of their Departments to the Cabinet officers themselves.

There will never be an instance, while I am President, when the members of the White House staff dominate or act in a superior position to the members of our Cabinet. When a directive is relayed from the White House to the members of the Cabinet, it will indeed come directly from me.

I believe in a Cabinet administration of our Government. And although the major decisions will be made ultimately by me as President, which is my constitutional prerogative and responsibility, the Secretaries will run their Departments. And this is the way it ought to be.

It puts a heavy responsibility .on me, because this is a departure from previous policy. It also puts a heavy responsibility on them. And because I recognize this great challenge to them, I was particularly careful in my own selections. I am very proud of all of them.

Standing here now on the stage, with a few exceptions among the three or four who still wait to be confirmed by the Senate, you see the leadership of our Nation. And I feel quite confident that I can do a good job as President because of the superb quality of those who have agreed to help me with those responsibilities.

And now I would like to ask Chief Justice Burger to administer the oath of office, following which all of you will be invited to meet with me and the Cabinet members and their families in the adjacent room.

Chief Justice Burger.

Note: The President spoke at 2:05 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger administered the oath of office.

Jimmy Carter, Swearing-In Ceremony for Members of the Cabinet Remarks at the Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243000

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