Sometimes it’s the ones you like the most who disappoint you the most . . .
Yesterday, my former boss, Vice President Joe Biden, gave a speech in Philadelphia touting the administration’s initiatives on rail investment. We had made sure the administration had good information on a great big project at the airport up there that will create 50,000 jobs over the next 13 years (Here’s an idea for a contest: If anyone knows of any project that can do as well as, or better than, that, please send it in and we will post it).
In the end, they chose not to highlight that project, presumably because it interfered with the rail message. I don’t agree with that decision, but on a certain level can understand it. One message at a time, thanks to Michael Deaver and Ronald Reagan. If that’s all that happened, or didn’t happen, I’d have nothing further to say.
But what disappointed me was that the Vice President’s argument for rail revolved, in part, around the idea that flying is an unpleasant experience, all those delays and all. He even seemed to call into question the investment in the new runway in Atlanta (which has reduced delays around the country due to its role as a major global hub and has had great environmental benefits by getting aircraft on the ground faster, and is promoting billi0ns in economic activity). This all brought back to mind the President’s comment in the State of the Union that one of the advantages of rail is that you don’t have to endure a TSA patdown. (Is that really an argument we want to make as a nation, Mr. President?)
What is so disappointing is that there seems to be an effort to undercut aviation in order to advance another agenda. I have no issue with the administration choosing to push rail; I don’t agree with it in every detail, but rail does have an important role to play. But isn’t their case strong enough without having to base it on bashing aviation?
So, Mr. Vice President, I know how committed you are to rail, having ridden that Washington to Wilmington route with you once or twice. I, too, take the train when I go to Philadelphia or New York; I’m not saying rail should not be strengthened. It should. I’ve ridden that maglev train in Shanghai (which goes to the AIRPORT by the way).
But I know how committed you are to economic growth and to the idea that a job is the best social program ever devised. Aviation has an important part to play, as does rail, as do highways. Transportation and economic growth go together. Please. There are plenty of good arguments to make without talking down aviation. Especially when you have efforts like they do in Philadelphia where they are creating 50,000 jobs.