Jim Oberstar

Former congressman James Oberstar, who died earlier this month, will be justly remembered for his encyclopedic knowledge of transportation and infrastructure issues.

He knew his subject matter about as well as a congressman can. After nearly 50 years on Capitol Hill as a staffer, representative and committee chairman, he was equally at home discussing the technical details of aviation safety, European high-speed trains, bridge maintenance or global trends in tourism.

But what we miss even more than his expertise is his gentlemanly demeanor. Here was a politician who gracefully sidestepped the partisan rancor that has taken root in Washington. Incumbents and newcomers to Congress would do well to emulate his example.

The nation and its transportation industry owe a debt of gratitude to the people of Minnesota for sending him to Washington for 18 terms.
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