Some enterprising folks are digging into his record — see the Wire (I think I prefer this to TOW) for a good rundown. He’s not bad, and I think it’s important to note the role expectations played in this choice. I wrote in an email yesterday that I supposed we could be happy he wasn’t a raging highwayman, kind of grudgingly. But taking a step back, it’s really a big deal that the DOT isn’t going to be run by a raging highwayman.
This is not the sexiest, most visionary appointment, but perhaps that’s not what’s needed in this slot. One assumes that Obama will spell out LaHood’s role pretty clearly, and depending on what that role is, he might do just fine. If it’s stategic bigthink, then we may wind up very disappointed. If it’s turning cranks and explaining to his Republican pals that rail is good for growth, well, we do need those folks.
So now that the original shock has passed, I’d say I remain cautiously optimistic. The people are important, but how Obama uses the people is most important. And that variable remains unknown so far.