[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 37, Number 4 (Monday, January 29, 2001)]
[Pages 212-213]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Swearing-In Ceremony for New White House Staff

January 22, 2001

    Thank you very much. Thank you. Don't go overboard. [Laughter] Sit 
down, please--no place to sit. [Laughter] Okay, don't sit down.
    Thank you all for coming. Mr. Vice President, thank you very much. 
Chief of Staff Card, I'm honored to have you by my side. I started work 
this morning, and there he was, smiling and ready to go on behalf of the 
American people.
    The First Lady and I are honored to be living here, and we're 
honored to be hosting this event, the first we've done in this glorious 
room since the Inauguration.

[[Page 213]]

    I want to thank the family members who are here. Thank you for your 
sacrifice. Thank you for the long hours, accepting the long hours that 
your loved one is about to put in on behalf of the American people. Some 
of the folks that are here have worked in past administrations. Some of 
us, this is a new experience. But for all of us, it is an honor of a 
lifetime, and it is our privilege to share this together.
    I am here to lead the executive branch of Government. You all are 
here because you have my full confidence. And we are here with the same 
basic purpose, to serve the American people. We have all taken an oath, 
and from this moment on it is our jobs to honor it.
    Today everything is so promising and new. My hope is that the day 
will never come when any of us take this place for granted and this 
honor for granted. As we serve, we must always remember three things.
    First, we must remember the high standards that come with high 
office. This begins with careful adherence to the rules. I expect every 
member of this administration to stay well within the boundaries that 
define legal and ethical conduct. This means avoiding even the 
appearance of problems. This means checking and, if need be, 
doublechecking that the rules have been obeyed. This means never 
compromising those rules. No one in the White House should be afraid to 
confront the people they work for, for ethical concerns. And no one 
should hesitate to confront me, as well. We're all accountable to one 
another. And above all, we're all accountable to the law and to the 
American people. My White House Counsel, Al Gonzalez, is my point man on 
these issues. If you have even a hint of ethical doubt, I urge you to 
talk to Al.
    Second, we must remember that high standards of conduct involve not 
only obeying the law but showing civility. As we go about our work, 
there is no excuse for arrogance and never a reason for disrespect 
toward others. People who work here are highly visible throughout the 
Government. In many ways, in many of your dealings, you'll be the face 
and voice of the White House staff. You will be my representative. I 
expect each of you, as an official of this administration, to be an 
example of humility and decency and fairness.
    And finally, we must all remember that we are here for a reason. You 
and I and the Vice President share the same goals for our country and 
the same commitment to achieving them. We are here to make progress. We 
are not here just to mark time. The next few weeks, we'll affirm the 
central policy goals of this administration, beginning this week with 
education reform.
    Everyone will know where we stand. Everyone will know where we're 
headed. Every morning I want you to remember these goals. Every evening 
I want you to review the progress we have made. I want it said of us, at 
the end of our service, that promises made were promises kept.
    On a mantlepiece in this great house is inscribed the prayer of John 
Adams, that only the wise and honest may rule under this roof. He was 
speaking of those who live here. But wisdom and honesty are also 
required of those who work here. I know each of you is capable of 
meeting that charge. This is only our second day, but time moves fast 
around here. So let us begin the work we were hired to do and leave this 
a better place than we found it.
    God bless.

Note: The President spoke at 9:10 a.m. in the East Room at the White