Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A thoughtful take on Baird

For a thoughtful take on Brian Baird's town hall meeting in Vancouver last night, check out the account by Randy Stapilus at Ridenbaugh Press. A few tidbits, to encourage you to read the whole thing:
The audience atmosphere was a little Pentacostal: Cries of “impeach Bush” or “end the war” and similar calls punctuated questions, answers and everything else. In the two hours we were there, not one questioner - out of perhaps 20 - expressed anything other than disgust and outrage at Baird’s new take on Iraq. To judge from audience reaction, a portion of the crowd of perhaps 400 to 500 (those that were inside - the room was filled solid and others couldn’t get in) supported him, but that portion was surely less than 10%.

Shouted one person, midway through: “You think you’re going to be re-elected?”

Baird: “It doesn’t matter to me.” Maybe, in the face of all that, it didn’t.
You can make the case that there’s nothing very dramatic about this as a matter of practical policy. There’s little question that an American withdrawal, even if ordered right away, would take months to execute, since so many people and supplies are located there. (However, while Baird was flatly convinced that American troop withdrawal would lead to disaster, there are lines of thought that the troops’ presence there now is encouraging more insurgency.) As Baird (and many others) points out, American troop levels will be drawn down next spring by 50,000 or so regardless what the policy is: This country simply won’t have the troops available to maintain current troop levels. So an American troop scaledown likely will occur then anyway, and likely not be before then anyway, regardless what Congress does. (And many of us suspect that any congressional action on Iraq contrary to the administration’s policy would be simply ignored by the president regardless.)

So the differences on Iraq between Baird and his friends at Vancouver may be a little narrower than either think, as a practical matter. That may not matter.
In the end, Baird is only one member of Congress, although this episode has shown how quickly right-wing media can still elevate someone to national prominence when it suits their propaganda purpose.

We can argue until the cows come home, if not the troops, about whether Baird truly understands how much political cover his actions have lent to the administration regarding Iraq. My guess is that Baird would acknowledge that but argue he has to call things like he sees them. As do we all.

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