IndyMac: Pathway to the White House

Former Army Secretary Louis E. Caldera has been tapped by President-elect Barack Obama to head the White House Military Office. It’s always nice to have another Defense guy in the Big House. Caldera has the pedigree (“Soldier! Lawyer! Politico! Academic!”) and a great bio, but what about that Army record? Then again, what does one need to hail Air Force One and oversee about 2,000 uniform types? He’ll also oversee ops at Camp David, the hush-hush prez retreat in Thurmont, Md.

The former service secretary graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1978, making the move a fitting announcement this, the week of that overhyped Army-Navy football extravaganza. (Ah, the 1970s — when the size of the football players was eclipsed only by the immense egos of the cadets. But we digress.)

Caldera spent what seems to be an unremarkable five years on active duty before punching out in 1983. He went on to graduate from Harvard in 1987 with the coveted MBA/JD. He practice law in his boyhood hometown in California and served in the state assembly. He joined the Clinton administration and eventually was named Army secretary. He left the Pentagon in 2001 and, in 2003, was named president of the University of New Mexico. He stepped down in 2006 but remained on the roles as a professor at the law school.

Some credit Caldera with the drive to modernize the Army. Harvard ran an article about Caldera and then-Chief of Staff of the Army Eric Shinseki announcing “a total transformation of Army forces.” But detractors “credit” him with what would become a major embarrassment for the Army. Lawmakers closed the Army School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. Caldera and crew chose to ignore a movement that had been gaining momentum with the public as well as on the Hill, accusing the school (and the Army) of training rogue Latin American soldiers in the art of human rights atrocities. (A false allegation.) The well-organized do-gooders won. The Army was able to avert total humiliation by securing an agreement to open another institution in its place under the DoD banner. 

Further comments on Caldera swirling around the blogosphere are mixed. Some call him a great choice for the job, though we are unclear why. The negative comments target his tenure heading the University of New Mexico. And they are brutal. His stint on the IndyMac Bank board of directors from 2002 until it was seized by the Feds this year also has met with suspicion and hostility. IndyMac is under investigation by the FBI.

He lost the School of the Americas. Then he lost IndyMac. Can the White House Military Office survive Louis Caldera?

The job currently is held by blue-suiter Navy Rear Adm. Raymond A. Spicer.

Recent Posts