The Ray LaHood thing was upsetting to some transportation reform advocates, but it’s worth noting that Barack Obama’s introduction of LaHood very much casts him and the administration in the reformist mode:
Standing up for our workers means putting them back to work and fueling economic growth. Our economy boomed in the 20th Century when President Eisenhower remade the American landscape by building the interstate highway system. Now we need to remake our transportation system for the 21st Century. Doing so will not only help us meet our energy challenge by building more efficient cars, buses, and subways or make Americans safer by rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges — it will create millions of new jobs in the process.
Few understand our infrastructure challenge better than the outstanding public servant I am asking to lead the Department of Transportation — Ray LaHood. As a Congressman from Illinois, Ray served six years on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, leading efforts to modernize our aviation system by renewing our aging airports and ensuring that air traffic controllers were using cutting edge technology. Throughout his career, Ray has fought to improve mass transit and invest in our highways. But he has not only helped rebuild our landscape, he has helped beautify it by creating opportunities for bikers and runners to enjoy our great outdoors. When I began this appointment process, I said I was committed to finding the best person for the job, regardless of party. Ray’s appointment reflects that bipartisan spirit — a spirit we need to reclaim in this country to make progress for the American people.
Improving mass transit beats out “invest[ing] in our highways” in Obama’s recounting of the events, and LaHood is specifically cited as a bicycle advocate. If that’s the animating spirit of the LaHood-era Department of Transportation I’ll be very happy. For now, we’ll have to see who gets the subcabinet jobs.