In his first six months as president, Barack Obama has not flinched at cutting people loose. The message — you’re outta here — comes through loud and clear, though typically not face-to-face from Obama himself.
In that regard, he’s not like real estate mogul Donald Trump who told contestants on his reality TV show: “You’re fired.” Those who have made a swift exit include Afghan war commander General David McKiernan, White House Military Office director Louis Caldera, and — in a manoeuvre stretching all the way to Detroit — General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner.
Obama was accused by some of not being tough enough during last year’s presidential campaign and this year’s health care debate, but his list of “formers” keeps growing.
The latest casualty was Gerald Walpin, the inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Walpin was driving to a judicial conference in upstate New York last month when a White House lawyer called to tell him he was out. Within 24 hours, his email account had been shut down and his office keys deactivated.
GM’s Wagoner, who survived years of jostling and intrigue in the struggling auto industry, was ushered into a Treasury Department office one Friday this spring and told to “step aside” or there would be no more federal bailout money for GM. By Monday, he was gone.
McKiernan had been on the job as commander of the war in Afghanistan for less than a year when Defence Secretary Robert Gates flew to Kabul in May to tell him he was being sacked. Days later, Gates told a Pentagon news conference that McKiernan was being replaced because the military needed “new thinking and new approaches” in Afghanistan. Asked if the general’s military career was over, Gates said: “Probably.”
Caldera made his exit after taking responsibility for the Air Force One flyover of the Statue of Liberty this spring that left panicked New Yorkers fearing another terror attack.