Monday night, Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) told a meeting of constituents in Vancouver, Wash. that although he voted against authorization for the war in Iraq and he still wishes we never went in, we ought to give the surge a chance to work.
Not only that, but Rep. Baird cited multiple trips to Iraq and conversations with commanders and soldiers to justify his view that if we pull out now, the shit will really hit the fan.
Speaking of, that's what happened as soon as Rep. Baird started articulating his views to the crowd. Shout-downs hurled forth. And now just today, MoveOn.org announces a $20,000 ad campaign to state their case and perhaps even see if the climate was right for someone to run against Rep. Baird in the next cycle.
I came down against the invasion, and came down against the surge. But to me, this whole episode strikes me as a prime example of the ham-handedness and lack of realpolitik the NetRoots is often guilty of.
Rep. Baird represents the Congressional District next to mine. I've been following him closely, ever since he defeated right-wing theocrat Rep. Linda Smith back in November, 1998.. In fact, I can peer into his District from the back deck of my Portland hillside condo.
There are three truths about Rep. Baird the NetRoots tend to forget.
First, he is on your side on most of the issues: an environmentalist with a thoughtful conscience, pro-choice, pro-labor, pro-public education and more.
Second, you may think he was "brainwashed," but I'd argue that brainwashing is rarely successful with someone of his particular professional qualifications and persuasion. That'd be Brian Baird, Ph.D. in psychology.
Third, although the Washington Third District leans slightly Democratic and Baird got 60 percent of the vote last time, this is still a swing district. Beyond the hip areas of downtown Vancouver, Wash., and the quite liberal enclaves of Olympia (where Rep. Baird is from), the district is full of small towns full of gun-loving, pious Republicans who listen to Rush, Sean Hannity and Lars Larson. These are people who only love spotted owls for dinner, have doubts about evolution but no doubts that Saddam was in on 9/11.
Two best-practices advice to the Netroots;
If you cleave Rep. Baird's natural consistency by running someone to his left, you just might hand the Third to a conservative.
Second, back off this guy. You can criticize his positions, but not the man. He's right more than wrong. Not on this issue, true, but is calling them as he sees them. He's been to Iraq five times, and his latest position is formed by the takeaways from these visits.
Why can't you respect the honest diligence of his research efforts- and agree that on balance, having Brian Baird as your Congressperson is a good thing?