Remember just over a year ago, when U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer told the crowd at the Oregon Bike Summit that we need to “Hold the weasels accountable” when their partisan bickering holds up good bike policy?
Now, Blumenauer is doing just that in his efforts to take Newsweek’s George Will to task for an anti-Portland screed he penned in a recent column. Will’s story was based on faulty assumptions about America’s relationship with bikes and cars and it directly insults Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for his (gasp!) love of Portland.
Will mocked LaHood’s desire (in rhetoric at least) to change America’s transportation habits and LaHood’s excitement about how Portland is leading the way. That would have been bad enough, but then Will goes on to talk smack about Portland, labeling it as (among other things) a place “liberals hope is a harbinger of America’s future.”
Blumenauer, who does happen to think more of America should look like Portland, swung into action swiftly. First via Twitter, where he challenged Will to a debate. Then, Blumenauer published an official statement on his website where he challenged Will to a debate in Portland wrote that, “Mr. Will proves that he is mired in a one-dimensional past, one that the city of Portland has successfully overcome”.
All of this has of course not gone unnoticed on bike, transportation, and political blogs (it’s also currently the “most recommended” and “most emailed” story on Newsweek.com). It’s already been coined the “Battle of the Bowties” and the “Bowtie Summit” (a nod to their choice in neckwear).
We’ll keep you posted on the time/date/location of the Will vs. Blumenauer Battle of the Bowties.
[via Willamette Week] — Blumenauer has now taken his criticisms of Will to the House Floor. Check it out: