Thursday, August 30, 2007

with friends like these . . .

Apparently Rep. Brian Baird has been taking some heat from the liberal establishment in SW Washington. Apparently is using this opportunity to kick Rep. Baird in the shins and is running an ad on Youtube against him. One of the local news channels described the over capacity crowd in a Vancouver, WA high school gym as an "angry mob." (watch the clip) Apparently there was a "robo-call" that went out before the town meeting.

I am unclear about how running an ad against an entrenched Congressman furthers the cause of ending the war in Iraq. Baird has won his last two elections rather handily, I do not believe that this little stunt by his "base" is going to cause him any more heartburn than strawberry milkshake from Burgerville (a small chain in Oregon and SW Washington, at the risk of editorializing, they are delicious). Russell Shaw on Huffington Post had this to say:

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.

Rep. Baird was the one of the only members of the Washington State delegation, besides Sen Murray and Rep Inslee, who voted against the war in Iraq in the first place. People have very short memories don't they? Baird gave a rather impassioned floor speech on the war during the vote for the "surge."

The point is that the war in Iraq is regrettable, but that is about it. It has been a disaster with no end in sight. The closest analogy that I can think of is buyer's remorse. We were never told of the possible risks involved with invading and running the country ourselves. We botched and bungled the whole thing, but that doesn't mean that we should just quit.

The decision to withdraw prematurely doesn't really matter when Iraq is already pregnant about to burst at the seems with conflict. Rival factions are competing for a stake in the new country, conflict is inevitable, they aren't going to agree on everything and fighting for what you want is what politics is all about. Stability is what we seek in Iraq, that should be the goal now that we already decided to go to war. We are no longer the primary target that we were when the war started, although we are still a target. This war is going to be between the Sunnis and Shiites and the Kurds and is going to be fought for territory and resources (revenue).

Politics is about the establishment of values, war is about removing loyal opposition. Iraq needs a solution that embraces both of these truths without copping out to more soundbite political ads that are designed only to make people look bad.

I've always held Rep. Baird in high regard, this puts him up even further in my opinion. It takes courage to stand up against the war in the first place (which was the right thing to do) and it takes courage to stand up to popular sentiment against the war and seek an end to war with dignity and most importantly stability.

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