McConnell Tribute to “Statesman and Scholar” Secretary George P. Shultz
'On Saturday we lost a great statesman and scholar who gave more than 80 of his 100 years to his country… America was his country, all right. He loved it deeply and served it always. The Senate’s prayers are with the Shultz family and all the friends and colleagues he leaves behind. Truly a remarkable life.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the death of Sec. George Shultz:
“On Saturday we lost a great statesman and scholar who gave more than 80 of his 100 years to his country.
“George Shultz’s service began in the U.S. Marine Corps. From the beaches of Palau, he was among the Americans who helped retake the Pacific from Japan.
“Back home, he earned a PhD in economics. He taught at MIT and would later helm the University of Chicago’s Graduate Business School.
“But public service beckoned, and George Shultz began a decades-long run of ping-ponging prolifically between academia and top government posts.
“The first of three presidents who’d benefit from his expert counsel, Dwight Eisenhower, hired him as a senior staff economist in 1955. A decade and a half later, he was back — this time as President Nixon’s Secretary of Labor, where he worked on desegregation, and later as OMB Director.
“Then, at a pivotal moment for the U.S. and world economies, George Shultz was tapped to lead Treasury. He fought inflation and worked to modernize our monetary policy so American leaders could control America’s destiny.
“After an interlude in the private sector, Secretary Shultz’s country came calling again. He spent six and a half of President Reagan’s eight years as Secretary of State. He helped steer the smart and strong foreign policy that clinched the free world’s victory over the Soviet Union.
“But even as the Reagan Administration nudged communism into a box canyon, this top diplomat’s master touch was vital in making sure that tensions did not rise too high.
“As amazing as it sounds, this impressive resume doesn’t fully explain George Shultz’s incredible reputation. It wasn’t just all he did; it was how he did it. He led with thoughtfulness, fairness, and above all, integrity. He lived by the maxim he shared in his centennial reflection just a few weeks ago: ‘Trust is the coin of the realm.’
“His honesty and thoughtfulness won wide admiration that transcended politics. He won the trust of career diplomats and State Department staff, including those who did not naturally lean to the Reagan right.
“Famously, when new ambassadors met with him on their way abroad, the Secretary would spin a globe and ask them to point out ‘their country.’ The unlucky ones who fell for the trap and pointed to their foreign destination were swiftly corrected. ‘No — your country is always America.’
“At the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, we host a Distinguished Speaker series. George Shultz honored us as our very first ever Distinguished Speaker back in 1993. And he kept right on writing and speaking and mentoring young people up until just a few weeks ago.
“America was his country, all right. He loved it deeply and served it always. The Senate’s prayers are with the Shultz family and all the friends and colleagues he leaves behind. Truly a remarkable life.”
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