President Biden administered the oath of office to about 1,000 new appointees on Wednesday evening, offering words of encouragement, a sharp warning, and, more than anything, a mission statement on how he views government service.
"You're engaged in and you're working with the most decent government in the world, and we have to restore the soul of this country — and I'm counting on all of you to be part of that," Biden told the new White House hires. "The only thing I expect with absolutely certitude is honesty and decency in the way you treat one another, the way you treat the people you deal with. And I mean that sincerely. Remember, the people don't work for us, we work for the people. I work for the people. They pay my salary. They pay your salary. They put their faith in you. I put my faith in you."
"History is gonna measure us, and our fellow Americans will measure us, by how decent, honorable, and smart we've been in terms of looking out for their interests," Biden said. "I'm not joking when I say this: If you're ever working with me, and I hear you treated another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot. On the spot, no ifs, ands, or buts. Everybody, everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That's been missing in a big way in the last four years."
"The proof is can you perform, but just a different tone from an incredibly different president that the one we just watched leave town today," CNN's John King said in response to Biden's talk. "Treat each other with respect, treat each other with dignity, I'll fire you on the spot if you don't. We've been reading tweets every morning for four years now in which the former president of the United States violated what we just heard from the new president of the United States. So it is a very important new ethos, if you will, for public service."