Seldom has a new secretary of state received such enthusiastic endorsement of the United States Senate. The 97-to-0 vote in favor of his confirmation (three senators were absent) was a tribute to George Shultz and to the way he handled himself in the Senate hearings. As virtually everyone seems to agree, he displayed the quick intelligence, unflap-pability, and force of character for which he was already known.
There clearly will be a change of tone and style around the White House in foreign policy making, and that is all to the good. But early admiration for Mr. Shultz should not obscure the magnitude of the diplomatic problems facing him or the fact that he, like his predecessor, will operate in a highly charged political atmosphere. Experience tells us how quickly euphoria can dissipate in Washington, and how soon frustration can set in because of the complexity of issues and the clash of ideas and interests.
Nonetheless, Secretary Shultz has an opportunity to build on the good will so quickly gained. He will not want to eliminate the vigorous, healthy competition of views which must precede decisionmaking. But through a sense of fair-mindedness, through quiet conciliation of bureaucratic conflicts, through the logic of his own thinking, he can build bipartisan consensus and help the President make wise decisions. The United States may still come to have that stable, consistent - and far-sighted - foreign policy the American people wish for.
Welcome, Mr. Secretary.