Messages From The President
February 13, 2002
President Sets Goals And Expectations For His Appointees
ANNOUNCER: As he began the second year of his administration, President
Bush took time out to speak to his management team - the cabinet and
sub-cabinet appointees. He talked about what has already been
accomplished - and his goals and expectations for the future. Following
the President: remarks by Vice President Cheney, Secretaries Powell and
Martinez, and Governor Whitman. First, President Bush.
GEORGE W. BUSH
Thank you all very much, I'm... first of all thank you Mr.
Secretary for hosting this event in this beautiful room, I'm glad that
got it cleaned up for us. I have been asked to talk a little bit about
I guess the vision thing.
(Unint.) approach this, I learned the President must assemble the very
best team of people in order to be a good president. And that's exactly
what I've done. I have learned that it is impossible... that it's
impossible to do this job without incredibly bright, dedicated citizens
who love their country more then themselves, willing to serve by my
And that's what's happened. And so I want to start off by thanking you
all for your service to your country. And (unint.) for being here, I've
assembled a fabulous cabinet,people who aren't afraid to make decisions
and people who understand that when a decision is made, they say, yes
One of the important things about having a good team is not only that
the people need to be competent and strong, but the environ... there
needs to be an environment in which people are willing to express their
mind, willing to discuss issues in an open and candid way, that there
can't be any kind of ridicule or... cynicism for somebody else's point
One of the most important things about a process of (unint.) decision
making is that the decision makers get the best information possible.
Another important part of this job is to think as big as you can think.
We didn't all come to Washington to set a little agenda.
We came to Washington to set big goals, goals that will leave a
indelible mark on the country after we leave. I don't know about you,
but I plan on leaving, I changed my address, I didn't change my home. I
want to talk to you real quickly about one such goal that landed on our
desk, it's a goal we didn't chose but it's one that we're going to
pursue with incredible vigor and strength and that is the goal to
And our team has performed brilliantly. But one of the things that has
been so important about the decision making process in the war against
terror is first we all understand the goal. The goal isn't going after
Osama Bin Laden, that's part of the goal. And by the way, I like our
chances better than his.
The goal is to rout out terror wherever it may hide or exist in order to
defend freedom. I can't think of any more profound goal for an
administration to pursue when we're successful as we will be, I can't
tell you how long it's going to take, but when we're successful we will
have left behind a legacy of freedom.
After all that's the whole notion the country was founded on. And one
reason we're doing so well is that the administration has a war counsel
of people involved in setting the strategy have had freedom to express
their opinions, say exactly what's on their mind and it brought vast
amounts of experience to the table.
And it felt comfortable about lending their voice and their experience
to the process. I don't know if you remember when we first got going,
there was a little bit of criticism about me dragging out some old
hands... [laughter] Sorry, Mr. Secretary. [APPLAUSE]
I don't hear them saying that anymore. I am pleased with the way things
have gone, there have been disagreements, as there should be. I mean if
we all agreed 100 percent of the time, some of us wouldn't be necessary.
And so we've had good disagreements but the amazing thing about this
administration and it's something I expect from everybody who works
here, that you keep your disagreements private.
And when a decision has been made we act together in concert as a team
and that's what's happened: we set a big goal, we set clear objectives
in the first theater of war against terror and we executed the plan. We
executed the plan as a team should and that's the way administrations
And this is what ought to happen on all agenda items that we put forth.
That I expect there to be good debate, but I don't particularly like
reading about the debate in the newspapers. I know that's inevitable
because people want to have their name, want to feel like they're making
progress for their own personal agenda, but there are no personal
agendas, that's the problem.
You see we represent the country, we don't represent you, we represent
something much bigger than all of us and that's the exciting thing about
being here. And we're making some good progress, I'm really proud of
what we've done in a relatively quickly period of time. In a year's
time we've booted out the Taliban and we've got Al Queada on the run.
We're implementing a national strategy for homeland security. We've cut
taxes which is a major accomplishment and thank goodness we did when we
did because it's going to help our economy recover so people can find
work. We reformed the education system, that is a significant reform by
the way, it was not... it was a large project, the goals were (unint.).
Because what we have done is for the first time the federal policy have
said that each child matters and we refuse to accept an education system
that quits on any child. That we recognize some kids just get moved
through the system, particularly those who are so-called hard to
But we're changing the whole attitude, the whole mindset of public
education for the better. And so I'm proud of the progress we've made.
I just wanted to assure you though, there is more to do, a lot more and
each of you have got responsibility to help us get it done.
And I could go right down the department heads here each year and think
of big important goals and I look at Tommy Thompson and I'm thinking
about reforming Medicare so seniors actually have got a modern system
that provides prescription drugs or agriculture so that we've got an
agricultural system where we can trade the world.
There are all kinds of important goals that your department heads or
your cabinet secretaries are... are setting for you that we've all got
to work together to achieve. I... I also think it's important that as
we implement our goals, it is vital that members of this administration
be willing to challenge the status quo.
Now in order to be effective to challenge the status quo you've got to
recognize what works and accept what works and encourage what works. If
you find something not working, blow the whistle on it. Demand
something different, you cannot achieve long lasting reform or big goals
in our government if you're just there to accept what's not working.
It just doesn't make any sense to come to Washington DC, try to do
something magnificent for our country in a variety of ways and accept
something that's failed. I hope you don't do that, I don't want you to
do that. As a matter of fact I want you to take the opposite
Recognize what works, herald what works, revel in those who made it work
and then say if something doesn't work, challenge it in an aggressive
and respectful way. There is a lot of process that happens in
government. For those of you who are new to government I'm sure you've
seen that. This can be a process-oriented world if we're not careful.
So one of the things we've gotta do is to focus on results. Finally, in
order to make good decisions we've gotta make decisions based upon
principle. I am pleased to report to you that no one has walked in Oval
Office in a year's time and said Mr. President, we have run a focus
group and the focus group says these ten people think you ought not to
go after the Taliban or these ten people think that so-and-so.
I'm proud to report that we don't run polls in the Bush administration
to figure out where we're headed. (Applause) Mayor Michael Curly of
Boston said, "there goes my constituency. I must follow them for I am
their leader." He's not a part of our administration. (Laughter) Our
philosophy is here's what we believe. Here's the principles and reasons
we believe them. We're gonna lead.
I was with President Mushara today. I don't know if you remember the
beginning of the war against terror when there were thousands of people
demonstrating in the streets of Pakistan and the Washington press and
all the people saying well you know the Bush administration has put us a
position where Pakistan will fall apart.
All of a sudden the President made the right decision thanks in large
part to our Secretary of State's insistence that he make the right
decision. But when he made the right decision and began to lead you
don't see riots in the streets. People love leadership, and that's what
this administration is going to provide.
Not only that. When it comes to results, my man Mitch, Mitch the Blade
Daniels (Laughter) has developed a management report card. The good
news everybody is starting at the bottom in the administration. You can
only go up. I want to assure you that I take it seriously. So on a
periodic basis I'll call my man Mitch in and say Mitch, how are these
He's gonna give me a report and I'm gonna watch to see whether progress
can be made toward goals. So we're gonna lead, we're gonna achieve
results and we're gonna do one other thing. We're gonna make Americans
proud of what they see. There's only one standard in this government,
and that's the highest possible ethical standards. There are no corners
to be cut. There are no excuses to be made when it comes to setting an
example for our fellow Americans.
We have the chance to change America for the better. We have a chance
to restore confidence to government. You wouldn't be sitting here if I
didn't have your confidence, if I didn't believe that you're gonna do
exactly what I know you can do and will do.
So I want to thank you for giving me a chance to come by and visit with
you. Oh, by the way, one final thing. Remember who your boss is. It's
not me. It's the people. When we spend taxpayers' money it isn't your
money. It's somebody else's money. The way our tax system is it's
generally some poor old guy out there working his heart out trying to
Your boss is not the President, because my boss is the people. We're
fortunate enough to be able to represent the people of the greatest
country on the face of the earth. Now I want to introduce a fabulous
Vice President. I want to say something to you that's gonna be hard for
me to--be hard for--well maybe some in my family (unint.), but it's the
best Vice President ever. (Applause)
We were talking about the Vice Presidency. I said you know if times are
good you're probably not gonna be needed much. But if we ever have a
problem you're gonna have a huge role to play. If we ever have
something like a recession or an emergency or a war I'm gonna count on
you. Thank God he's the Vice President. (Applause)
Thank you very much Mr. President. We especially appreciate those kind
words. I won't tell (unint.). In a meeting like this my thoughts go
back to when I first came to work in the White House some thirty-three
years ago this spring. I went to work there as a young assistant for
one Don Rumsfeld. Now more than three decades later I'm still cleaning
up after Don Rumsfeld. (Laughter)
Along the way I've learned a few things about the Executive Branch and
about Presidential leadership. When we speak about the modern
presidency we're talking about an enormously complex institution. No
matter new agencies or delegations of power or position that are created
at the center there's still only one person, one man who put his name on
the ballot, who was tested in the national political arena, who took the
oath of office, recruited all of the rest of us and who wields the
The Constitution places the entire, this entire branch of government in
his charge. Each one of from the Vice President, cabinet secretaries on
down the line, we're all here for one reason and that's to help him
execute the office he holds in serving the American people.
That's the only measure of our success as members of the team. As in
any enterprise the man at the top can set the tone. I saw this a
quarter of a century ago when I worked for President Ford and watched
him raise the bar of conduct throughout the entire government. I've
seen it most recently in the standards set by the President from the day
we began the transition exactly fourteen months ago.
I observed at that time that after one of the most chaotic elections in
American history it was the smoothest transition I'd ever been involved
in. From that day to this there has been a clear sense of direction and
maturity and discipline, the willingness to cooperate and an ethic of
I've watched over the years administrations that I've served in and
others and virtually every one of them when faced with that first major
national crisis that involved national security questions, troops,
issues of war and peace, virtually all of them stumbled the first time
out. That didn't happen this time.
I know this president from having watched him operate in Texas as
governor, before that as a business executive. When he is in charge the
entire operation focuses on results. That's one of the reasons I
accepted his invitation to return to public life, and I'm sure the same
is true for virtually everyone in the room.
Mr. President, we all feel ourselves to be part of a team with a leader
who brings out the team behind it.
Above all Mr. President, I want to thank you. This has been a year of
real accomplishment, of commitments carried through, setting us in
resolve in the face of new and terrible challenges. The entire country
is grateful for the strength and clarity and character and purpose that
you bring to the Presidency.
For my part I've enjoyed the association enormously of you and your
entire team. I know its too early to think about future elections, but
should you find yourself once again in need of a running mate I'd be
delighted to run the search for you. (Applause)
Mr. President, Vice President and my colleagues it's a great pleasure to
welcome you here to the State Department this afternoon and into the
diplomatic rooms of the State Department. Many of you have shared
(unint.) before. For those of you who have not I hope you will linger
for a moment not only here in the Ben Franklin room but the Jefferson
room behind this room and all the other rooms on this floor which are
named after founding fathers (coughing), lawyers, secretaries of state.
I have been asked along with Mel Martinez and Christy Todd Whitman to
give a brief homily on subjects that were assigned to us. I was
assigned two subjects. I don't know who came up with the subject but I
suspect it might have been either Andy Card or Clay Johnson. But I got
government of the people, by the people, for the people.
I also was asked to talk about the relationship between political
appointees and career officials in the departments. Ronald Reagan
always used to say the way you say that, that powerful last line of
Gettysburg Address is "guvment" of the people, by the people, for the
people. With the emphasis always, as the President noted a moment ago,
on the PEOPLE of government, PEOPLE.
Comes from one of the more powerful addresses ever uttered in the
English language, the Gettysburg Address. The first two sentences, two
lines of that address we all know so well. "Four score and seven years
ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a nation conceived in
liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created
Lincoln when he wrote this in 1863 reached back four score and seven
years ago to the Declaration of Independence. It's a historical oddity
that by 1863 people spent more time talking and thinking about the
Constitution than the Declaration of Independence because the
Declaration of Independence had no force of law.
It was an indictment against King George. So they (unint.) the
Constitution. But then Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address brought this
great vision from the Declaration of Independence right back to the
forefront of American consciousness when he went back to four score and
seven years ago our fathers and then he said all men are created equal.
Of course he was taking that from the most famous part of the
Declaration of Independence. Nobody ever reads the bill of particulars
against King George but we all know the depth of our heart, those four
lines that give vision to this nation and inspire us for so many years,
inspire the world. "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all
men are created equal and that they are created with certain unalienable
rights. Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of
There's a desk out in the Adams room that is supposed to be the desk
that Jefferson wrote some of these words on. I hope in the course of
the afternoon you might want to just stop and take a look at it. That's
the sentence that everybody knows so well. But there's a sentence that
comes right after that I've reflected on many times over the years.
It says that to secure these rights governments are instituted among
men, derived under just powers from the consent of government. The word
that really struck me was to secure these rights governments have
instituted-- not to give these rights, not to protect them, not to
defend them--to secure them. Governments doesn't give rights. What is
it saying? No. Gave these rights to men and to women- -life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness.
The whole purpose is government. The only reason that government--the
only reason that government is instituted allowing men and now women is
to secure these rights. Meaning if they don't exist that they don't
exist for a particular group of people government has the responsibility
to go get them and give them to these people because God endowed them
with these rights.
Jefferson wrote these words at the time he was slave holder. He knew it
was an vision to see in his lifetime. Some say it was hypocritical to
include vision down, but it was a vision for all time. As we think
about Lincoln, Jefferson, Adams, Madison and all the other founders that
are represented in these rooms just remember that all men are created
equal by their God. Their given rights by their God.
Our responsibility as a government instituted by free men and women is
to remember that resolve and issues and to secure these rights and to
secure them for the richest and the most powerful and more importantly
to secure them for the poor, those who are wanting, for those who have
(unint.) from the blessings of this beautiful land of ours.
The President in his State of the Union Address not too long ago had me
word the section at the end that did not get enough attention where he
talked about values, where he talked about values that we believe in
because we knocked those values out of the (unint.). But he talked
about them as universal values that apply to us, that apply to everybody
in the world all because God created (unint.).
As we go forward and as we try to have government of the people, by the
people and for the people strike through hapless world, remember the
source of this vision. Remember the source of this inspiration and
remember that it is so easy to connect.
Jefferson said in the Gettysburg setting--the president said the other
night--to this great value system rights given to us by God and we are
privileged to be part of government that is determined, committed as far
as our vision to secure these rights not only for our fellow citizens of
America but for our fellow citizens throughout the world.
When I first arrived in the department last year received a series of
briefings as I know all of you did in your various departments. I came
here for my first political appointment having been in career civil
service so to speak for thirty-five years.
So I (unint.) and now I was a political appointee. I learned in my
military career that you have to make the best use of all the human
talent that is entrusted to you (cough) (unint.) by the American people.
One of the first briefings I had was with the Africa bureau. Assistant
Secretary of State, Susan Rice, President Clinton's appointment was
I invited the outgoing political appointees to bring in the whole team,
career and non-career to brief me. I wanted to hear things they were
doing, why they did them and what they were doing. Then bring our own
vision and perspective to it.
Susan was very gracious. She sat with the large group that came to all
of them. It wasn't just State. They were there from CIA and Congress.
They figured they'd better get in this room while the getting was good.
So all of them packed the room and Susan at one point, in a gracious
comment, she said when your team takes over--and I interrupted her and
said Susan, this is my team.
Meaning you're leaving and that's the way it is in a Democratic system.
The people have made a different selection. A new vision is coming in.
A new political ideology is coming in. A new way of doing business is
coming in. But these people that you leave behind, these careerists,
are not getting shut off, left outside. They are now part of our team.
My experience with our careerists and my own experience as a careerist
says to me that they want to do the best job they can for the American
people. That's why they're in the Civil Service or the Foreign Service
or all the other components represented here.
Just remember as we go forward, as we give them direction, as we take
the President's vision and apply it to all of our departments and
agencies and bureaucracies, touch them. Let that vision become their
vision. Let them know that you trust them. Let them know that they are
now part of our great team, the great team with a vision for a better
America. A great team with a vision for a better world. A great team
with a great leader we are all so proud to serve. Thank you.
Good afternoon. It's mine now to have an opportunity to address you. I
guess at the very outset I should say that I'm not one of the old hands.
Many of you might have been saying Martinez who? So I'm immensely
grateful to the President and the Vice President for giving me this
incredible opportunity to serve the people of the United States of
I guess really that rooky sort of factor came, why I'm being asked to
speak to the subject of ethics and ethical behavior in government. When
we were having my little job interview with the President and the Vice
President the President said to me you know Mel the first indictment of
this administration is probably gonna come out of HUD.
Well I took a deep breath and thought about it and decided that yes, I
did want the job. But you know having been a practicing lawyer for many
years of my life I did have a good sense of what ethical behavior might
be about. I thought that that was a huge part of my assignment was to
make sure that I didn't let the President down and I didn't let the
country down. That I didn't let the administration down. The first
thing I did as all of you have done and we've been so blessed that
people have been willing to serve was to surround ourselves with some
people that are ethically rooted and were gonna help me carry out that
mission. Deputy Secretary Lafonda (ph.) Jackson and then the general
counsel, Dick (unint.), who came in with an attitude we're gonna be
proactive about the issue of ethics.
We weren't gonna wait to find out if there was a problem and then deal
with it and try to clean up after it. But we were really going to be
aggressive and proactive in this issue of ethics knowing that we were an
agency that might have been ethically challenged. So we did some of the
same things that I know many of you have done.
I know many of you have decided that the confidence we've been given is
such that we must insure that we never breech that trust and that
confidence. So we have to do the things that it takes to improve the
united partners, quality of life of American families.
One of the things that kind of struck me due to the assignment that we
have at HUD is that when people might do something--you know HUD's an
agency with a thirty billion dollar budget which about half flows
through us to others to utilize our money, to do things for the people
of this country.
So it quickly dawned on me that those who might cheat the federal
government and do wrong things for the money that floats through HUD are
not really cheating some impersonal being. They're really cheating that
single mother with a couple of kids that's trying to make a go of life
and lives in public housing.
So they're really impacting the lives of American people, and those are
sometimes the most vulnerable in our society. So as the President said
we serve people. They're our bosses. He's often said too in the sense
of cutting taxes that it's the people's money. So as we spend that
money and as we oversee that's it's gonna deal with our money, it is the
people's money. So we have to be ever so careful and ever so focused on
insuring that that is not breached. The President is focus on ethics
and moral leadership and again in the same way when we lead our
departments we have to base that on values, in a values way of doing
things and a values way of doing business and essentially bring our
values to the job that we have to do.
Those are the core values that we bring and those are the ones that
define us. That's exactly what we try to do at HUD and I know many of
you have tried to do where you work. Technical compliance we decided
wasn't good enough. We would try to determine where the line was of
ethical behavior and then we would move well back of it because in my
mind the appearance of impropriety is just as much as an impropriety
The opportunity to embarrass the administration is not like going up to
the line of what might be legal and what might be ethical. But it might
be avoiding even the appearance of an impropriety. Because at the end
of it it's about people having confidence in their government.
If they're gonna have confidence in what we do and what we're doing in
this age of so much cynicism the facts of (unint.) self-confidence in
the way we do our work and we much avoid even the appearance of
So some other things that we've specifically done at HUD is that we've
taken this message to all our employees. We've conducted some seminars
with our senior staff so that they can be briefed on our corporate
commitment to change the culture of the department that oftentimes was
the butt of jokes in this city and to not ever accept that kind of
performance as the kind of performance we would be judged by.
So I spoke to our employees on the subject of ethics. We had a
conversation. It made a profound impact because it showed that this was
really a commitment. This wasn't just a conversation and that I was
putting our administration on the line and was committed to ethics.
Drawing on what Secretary Powell said we took in our career people and
the response was outstanding from these very energetic career people who
now have a fresh and renewed understanding of the central purpose of our
We obviously know that as we go along the way there'll always be an
opportunity for slips, an opportunity for problems. But if we keep in
mind that it is a values-based ethics that we are seeking I don't know
if we will ever fail.
At the end of the day I know the President (unint.) are not just to
occupy an office. We know that great leaders are not defined by their
government. Great leaders are grounded in public service and through
their ethics define the government itself.
I believe that government built on the shoulders of leaders like we
serve in this President and Vice President that it's the kind of
government that can leave a legacy behind. You know I'm the first
Cuban-American to have the opportunity to serve in the cabinet of the
That's an honor that I take with great pride. But it carries with it a
great burden as well because when I hear a young Cuban-American boy tell
me that they look up to me and they think that I am someone that they
want to aspire to be like one day it makes me realize that the way we
will be defined and the way that we will be judged is by whether or not
the next generation of Americans, in my case hopefully some
Cuban-Americans or Hispanic-Americans, are motivated to want to serve
our government and want to lead our government at the end of the
Mr. President, along with your leadership we'll be up to that task and
we'll get it done. Thank you. (Applause)
CHRISTY TODD WHITMAN
I was asked to take a few minutes to talk a little bit about what this
great concept of teamwork means. The President often says that not all
wisdom resides in Washington. I suspect that when he looks around the
room that he has some doubts.
Every single person here is very bright, very dedicated. Many of you
come from positions of great authority and responsibility in the past.
It's very easy, and we all do get very focused on our issues because
we're here. Because we care about serving the people. It's very easy
to get so invested that we sometimes forget that it's not about us.
It's about those issues. That as much as we care about something that
when a decision has been made to move forward on an issue by those who
have been elected to make those decisions that we need to get behind
that 100% because it's about the issues and not about us.
That no decision when it is made is--reflects on a person. When we look
at issues, when we decide where we think we ought to go, when we make
the pitch to whomever it is that we make it to, the next up the line,
and then that decision is made and it may not be exactly the way we want
it, we need to understand it wasn't about us.
It's not a personal reflection that we didn't do our job right. It's
that there are other considerations that have driven the decision. We
need to be respectful of the fact that the people with whom we work are
just as dedicated, just as bright and just as committed as we are, and
they may know something we don't.
That's not always easy. It's not always easy when you have people who
really do know their subject areas. But it's a very important fact to
keep in mind because this administration has made it so clear that we
serve the people.
This is an administration as you've heard the President say with
principle and an administration that is committed to delivering on
promises. That's another challenge that we have before us because how
do we know that we've delivered on the promises unless we set ourselves
some very measurable goals?
I know in our agency the President wants to see our air cleaner, our
water purer and our land better protected when we leave than it was when
we took office. I often look around at all the process that's going on
and wonder how do we know what the progress is? So we're in the process
of putting together now a report card on the environment.
The challenge is gonna be we can set that in our goals, but the
challenge is gonna be recognizing that we're not always gonna get there
when we want to get there. It's gonna take us some time. We're going
to find some ideas that we had that don't work the way we thought they
were gonna work.
We're gonna find some times when we're frustrated and we can't always
get there. But there's nothing wrong with that. The real strength of
this administration, this President and this Vice President, is that
they understand that are not afraid to set those challenges out there
realizing that they may have to look at the people in the eye and say
no, we didn't get there.
We're not quite there yet. But you know what? That tells us we need to
do a better job here. We're already succeeding there. We're gonna
focus on another goal. We're gonna focus on another target to get us to
where we need to be. That takes an enormous amount of courage for a
political figure let me tell you.
When you answer to the electorate and you're willing to stand up to them
and say this is where I think we ought to go, this is how I think we
ought to get there, and when you don't make it all in the timeframe that
you wanted to stand up and say, look we're still working on it and it's
okay. It's okay to keep those challenges out there and to be willing to
report to the public because that's our obligation.
The only two people here that were elected are the President and Vice
President. The rest of us have been given an extraordinary opportunity
to serve in what I believe is an exceptional administration. We are
part of a team, and that means it is greater than the sum of its parts.
It's greater than each and every one of us individually no matter how
much we know and how much background we bring to the issues that we face
and the challenges in front of us. We can only serve this President and
Vice President, well we can only serve this country and the people of
this country well if we remember that it's about the issues, if we
remember that it's about being honest with people.
It's about setting goals so we know where we're going and we know when
we're getting there. It's about being willing to admit if you don't
succeed right away and re-dedicate yourself to those principles because
they are ones that are going to last throughout time. It's not about
It's about the issues. It's about the people that we serve and it's
about this extraordinary country, the United States of America. I thank
the President for having asked me to be part of this team. Thank you.
GEORGE W. BUSH
I hope you all have found this to be an instructive and complimentary.
I'm really glad I came over. In fact my cabinet secretaries will be
doing a great job. I want to thank you all for your service to the
country. May God bless you all. (Applause)