Done Deal: Obama Picks LaHood as Transpo Secretary

The Washington Post says it’s official

  • Mick F

    He is Caterpillar’s bag man in DC and former Dennis Hastert (House GOP speaker)guy. Also tight with highway unions. Got $148k from Caterpillar to get them between $20 and $75million in annual earmarks for their S. Illinois subsidiaries. This is old school highway/union industrial complex all the way. Exemplifies mindset that transportation is federal pork supply for heavy industry and construction jobs. His appointment bolsters endless “roads and bridges” mantra in every stimulus quote from the Obamites. This is a guy that makes Iris Weinshall look like a visionary and Sarah Palin like the most experienced technocrat in the country. If this guy is clean, coming as he does from the bowels of the Downstate GOP patronage machine, it will be a surprise.

    See the clip below for this stooge’s pathetically laughable defense of corruption in House GOP under Hastert.

    Partial Transcript from Crooks and Liars.com of interview with CBS
    Lahood: Look at, I give Speaker Hastert high marks for strong leadership. He took care of Tom DeLay, his best friend. When Tom was having ethical problems, the speaker went to him and asked him to leave. When he appointed Duck Cunningham to the intelligence committee, he went to Duke and made sure he wasn’t on the intelligence committee after it was disclosed he took 2.3 million dollars. And when Bob Ney was appointed chairman of the House administration committee, he was appointed by Speaker Hastert. Speaker Hastert went to him and told him to step down from that committee after the Abramoff disclosures. Hastert has the ability to take on these big ethical challenges that our party has faced…

    Bob: But, but…”chuckle”..what you’re saying when you list all that Congressman is that he did appoint some of these people who turned out to be crooks. So doesn’t he have something to answer for there?

  • James

    I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. Please, say it isn’t so.

  • So what’s the deal here? There ought to be a huge amount of pressure brought to bear on the president-elect to answer questions about what this is all about. Transportation for America?

    Is this guy a new Norman Mineta? Are we going to see real change in transportation funding? There’s the huge let-down from not getting Blumenauer or Oberstar, but beyond that there is a let-down that this guy seems to have no real, stellar pro-transit credentials.

    Rick Warren is going to give the benediction and LaHood is going to fire up the caterpillar. Ugh.

  • from the Washingtonpost article:

    “Like Obama, LaHood has a special appreciation of President Abraham Lincoln and has been an advocate for protecting the 16th president’s legacy in Congress. LaHood authored the law establishing the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which is developing plans for Lincoln’s 200th birthday next year. LaHood also helped establish the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, according to his congressional biography.”

    Sweet.

  • Josh

    Yuck.

  • Oh please.

  • Let us “Harriet Miers” this lightweight. It would be better even to keep on Mary Peters, a champion of congestion pricing (and supplier of hilarious bicycling put downs). What does LaHood think of road pricing—has he heard of it?

  • Hugely disappointing. Almost makes Adolfo Carrion look like Jane Jacobs. Almost.

  • But I should add, I’m willing to give the guy the chance to prove we skeptics wrong.

  • jmc

    Doc, you’re right… lets show some progressive muscle!

    I’ll write some letters.

    This is a great quote:

    “This is a guy that makes Iris Weinshall look like a visionary and Sarah Palin like the most experienced technocrat in the country.”

  • jmc

    Maybe he has some bad dirt on Blago/Emanuel and they’re trying to shut him up.

    I’m really not willing to give this guy a chance unless there is evidence that he takes the Metro in DC to work. Should we have given Cheney a chance?

    Donald Rumsfeld was a progressive visionary compared to this guy.

  • You’re right, jmc; just looking for a silver lining in the face of some increasingly concerning cabinet appointments.

  • Lee

    I think the problem is not Obama’s strategy. The problem is the Republican’s strategy. The only way the Republicans are going to improve is if Obama includes them the way that he intends too. Yeah some of his cabinet picks are dirty insiders, and rivals. Buy buying them out now he has more opportunity to get things done later. Also he has to prevent the reoccurring problem of democratic infighting. That’s why he needs people with Hillary connections, etc..

  • From the Post article, “He was one of only three Republicans who did not sign former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” according to the Almanac of American Politics.”

    That’s weird.

    Anyway…at least we get to keep JSK.

  • jojo

    I understand people are concerned, I really do. But this is exactly WHY I didn’t pin all my hopes and dreams on Obama’s candidacy. You see, he’s just not that into you (transportation people). The man is not God. He’s a politician, subject to the same desires, allegedly “dependable friends” and personal interests that all politicians are into. I’m sorry if I’m getting harsh, but he’s more into improving our international standing, education, and restarting financial regulations than probably even building roads and bridges.

    Its OK to feel discouraged now. It’s not even 1/20 yet. However, if we don’t buckle down and play the game, we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot. LaHood clearly is a guy who likes pork, so why not convince him to spend that pork on the things we see are fit for federal dollars. If the transit/bike/ped sector loses a bit of the inferiority complex and presents the change they seek as not needed but INEVITABLE, we could still gain traction. Keep in mind that a champion of Amtrak will be occupying the office Dick Cheney used to. And even then, George Bush didn’t entirely get his way on Amtrak. Why? Because he didn’t really care either, originally appointing a token from the other party to head DOT. It’s not a perfect situation that has been laid out, but like the financial collapse, there’s nothing we can do about the past, and its mostly not our fault. We really just have to play the game.

    To sum up: am I dissapointed? yes. am I quitting? no.

  • oscar

    firt vilsack for agriculture and now this

    sucks

  • Over on the Thunderhead mailing list we have learned that La Hood has been a strong supporter for Transportation Enhancements and CMAQ. Both programs have been absolutely critical for funding bike/ped/transit projects here in Missouri.

  • Mick F.

    Super duper stinker pick. Guy comes across as a moron. Total capitulation to the highway lobby, business and labor side both. Anyway please don’t equate fixing Amtrak with transportation reform. Amtrak carries people between cities, not within them. The whole Amtrak/maglev/TGV fast train thing is mainly about getting people out of airplanes, not cars. Obama better do a lot more than fix falling down bridges and get higher Amtrak subsidies so German tourists visit more small towns in Texas.

  • I found this an interesting read.

    http://spokesnfolks.blogspot.com/2008/12/bike-friendly-pick-for-dot.html

    Obama understands full well that challenge we face regarding regarding environment, health, transportation, and the complete picture approach to solving these problems.

    Getting some kind of Republican buy in will be one of his bigger challenges, and he knows this. Appointing LaHood, who seems to have a bit more of an open mind regarding transportation solutions than most republicans, gets someone from the Republican fold who would still be willing to follow Obama’s lead on energy conservation and quality of life changes that are one and the same.

    Also I think as others have stated, he’s been choosing people who have the wherewithal to understand the difference between their own desires and the best interests of the people they are representing. Consequently, I think that LaHood is Obama picking someone that would be open to options he’d never considered and be willing to work Obama’s more progressive agenda that his own historical agenda.

    Time will tell

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