Portland Congressman to George Will: Let’s Debate

bowties.jpgWill vs. Blumenauer: Battle of the bowties.

Just when you thought George Will’s pouty, ill-informed tirade against new Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was going to stand unchallenged, here comes Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

Blumenauer, co-chief of the Congressional Bike Caucus and a Streetfilms favorite, released a statement this morning that dares the conservative pundit to come to Portland for a debate on sustainable urban planning and transportation policy.

The gauntlet was first thrown via Twitter, where Blumenauer posted: "it’s LaHood that gets it. George Will doesn’t …" before following up with a sarcastic reference to the love of bowties that both men share.

So is Will prepared to answer the call and head northwest? We’ve got a call in to Newsweek’s spokeswoman, and will keep you posted on any response we receive.

Meanwhile, you can read Blumenauer’s full statement to Will after the jump.

In his article, Mr. Will proves that he is mired in a one-dimensional past, one that the city of Portland has successfully overcome” said Blumenauer. “He opposes policies that will provide Americans with more choices while saving them money, creating jobs and protecting the environment. In Portland we have been able to increase productivity, boost our economy, and invest in our city’s resources by taking a well-rounded approach to transportation. Secretary LaHood shares this comprehensive view on transportation options for our nation — it’s not about behavior modification its about giving Americans the freedom to choose more than just the highway or byway.

Rather than pontificate about practicality from afar, I challenge Mr. Will to come experience Portland, and then debate the facts, the future and the visions we offer,” continued Blumenauer. “I am proud to defend the Portland model so painstakingly developed and implemented over the last 1/3 of a century. Maybe he will understand why young well educated people move here without jobs and older, well established business and professional people won’t leave for jobs that pay more. We will be happy to buy his plane ticket and give him a bottle of Oregon pinot to die for.

  • Glen

    I’d love to join the two for a ride around Portland and perhaps wine country.

  • Do it for the pinot at least, Will! I’d love to hear a pro-auto “Conservative” reasonably debate his position in a public setting. Unlike some other people, I personally think George Will might be kinda smart (some obvious climatological errors aside). I bet if he took a more careful look at the O’Toole soundbites he has obviously been digesting, he’ll see that encouraging automobile-centric sprawl is not consistent with his own principles. I’m rooting for a conversion here.

  • I have enjoyed Will’s position on international affairs over the years, but on domestic transportation policy, he’s dead wrong. It’s Blumenauer and his peers that are promoting freedom and liberty, and Will and his ilk who are trying to stifle it. Car mono-culture shackles citizens to a system that requires ownership and upkeep of expensive equipment, demands an ever increasing percentage of time to use, and burdens society with myriad unaccounted-for externalities.

    Consider this, 33% of Americans cannot, or choose not to use this system as their primary means of transit, yet less than 18% of spending currently goes to support non-car options.

    I can’t wait for this debate, and I hope Streetsblog covers it.

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