On December 11, two days before his 100th birthday, The Washington Post published an opinion piece by George Shultz entitled, “The 10 most important things I’ve learned about trust over my 100 years.” He wrote, “When trust was in the room…good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen.” Here’s one example:
In 1973, when I was treasury secretary, I attended a wreath-laying ceremony at a World War II memorial in Leningrad with the Soviet foreign trade minister, Nikolai Patolichev (who) described the staggering death toll in the Battle of Leningrad. Tears streamed down his face, and his interpreter was sobbing. When we were about to leave, I said to Patolichev, “I too, fought in World War II and had friends killed beside me.” Looking out over the cemetery, I added, “After all, these were the soldiers that defeated Hitler.” Facing the cemetery, I raised my best Marine salute, and Patolichev thanked me for the show of respect. Later on, to my surprise, I learned that I had earned the trust of Soviet leaders as a result of this visit.
On December 11, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by Joseph Epstein, 83, “Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.,” which began this way: Madame First Lady–Mrs. Biden–Jill–kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the “Dr.” before your name? “Dr. Jill Biden” sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic. I think Mr. Epstein intended to be humorous, mentioning his own limited academic credentials. But tone matters, and humor, especially sarcasm, sometimes backfires. His column was widely panned, but it motivated more than a few women who hadn’t used the prefix to say that now they will, in light of his essay.