In choosing U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood as secretary of transportation, President-elect Barack Obama has selected a man who forged a reputation for integrity throughout his U.S. House career.
WE'LL ADMIT we were thinking wishfully on a grand scale when we wrote the following in this space on Sept. 2:
“We’re not saying having Obama in the White House would in any way guarantee a more permanent set of orders for the 183rd’s fire department. Nor can we speculate that it would give the local, state and federal officials who have tried unsuccessfully to secure a new flying mission for the 183rd any better shot at success.
“Then again, who’s going to deny that it wouldn’t hurt?”
AT THE TIME, we were writing about an extension that would keep the Illinois Air National Guard’s 183rd Fighter Wing fire department at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport for another year. The hope was (and is) that keeping the fire department here will help secure a flying mission for the 183rd. It’s a cause that central Illinois’ congressional delegation — including Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama — has strongly supported.
Our wishful thinking got another boost, though in a much broader sense, with President-elect Obama’s announcement that U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood is his choice for U.S. secretary of transportation.
In LaHood, Obama has selected for his Cabinet a man who forged a reputation for integrity throughout his U.S. House career. LaHood was co-chair of four bipartisan retreats for fellow House members aimed at defusing the rancor that had pervaded politics in the late 1990s and encouraging civility in political discourse.
LAHOOD ALSO was among the many voices long critical of Gov. Rod Blagojevich — LaHood even considered running against Blagojevich in 2006. He knows that Illinois’ inability to come up with a sensible means of financing a capital construction plan is costing the state millions of federal dollars.
Obviously, having the U.S. secretary of transportation from Illinois and keenly aware of this state’s transportation infrastructure needs should not mean an extra share of federal stimulus dollars for roads, rails and bridges. But in these uncertain times, having a figure of proven character like LaHood heading the country’s Transportation Department should bring a significant measure of confidence for both those who have been well served by LaHood’s representation in Congress and those looking for bipartisanship in the new administration.