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George Shultz in 2017 at the Marines Memorial Club in San Francisco

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George Shultz, who passed away earlier this month at age 100, was a man about which any mother would be proud. He excelled in so many dimensions, and his strength of character was exemplary. 

Mr. Shultz was a Marine all his life — "there's no such thing as a former Marine," he would say. He was an accomplished academic — at Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and elsewhere — and a successful administrator, having launched the University of Chicago's stellar business and economics programs and later having led the Bechtel Corporation. 

But it is Shultz's unparalleled government service that most people will remember. His chair at President Reagan's Cabinet table had more plaques on its back than any in history. As Secretary of Labor, as OMB Director, as Treasury Secretary, and as Secretary of State, Shultz demonstrated exceptional executive talent and powers of analysis and persuasion.

Even more important was Shultz's strength of character. An example. Shortly after I left the FTC and returned to head OMB, the President appointed me to a seat on the National Security Council. At one of the first meetings I attended, there was a discussion of what to do about a South American president who was a strong ally, but who was under attack for his support of the U.S. 

"Maybe we should invite him to meet me here in DC — to show our support," President Reagan volunteered. 

"Mr. President, that would be a terrible idea," Shultz immediately responded. "That man is a dictator who is suppressing all dissent with violence." 

Now, that took guts. That's real character. And Reagan was clearly impressed.

Every president — every nation, for that matter — needs a George Shultz, and for decades America was blessed to have the leadership of this remarkable man.

Editor’s note: A version of this submission appears under James C. Miller III’s byline in a weekly newsletter of the International Tax and Investment Center, of which he serves as chairman of the Executive Committee. Miller lives outside the town of Washington.


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