I highlighted Democrat Rep. Brian Baird’s op-ed last week in the Seattle Times arguing against precipitous withdrawal from Iraq after he returned from a trip there on the ground. The nutroots continue to be incensed with Baird’s conclusions.
Check out the reports on Baird’s appearance at a town hall meeting in Vancouver, Wa:
Congressman Brian Baird (D-3 Vancouver, Washington) hosted a town hall tonight at Fort Vancouver High School. It was Baird’s first appearance in front of his constituents since reversing his position on the war. Although Baird’s been an adamant critic of the war—he voted against the war and the surge—he announced last week that he thinks the surge is working and he wants to give it time.
He spoke in a high school auditorium that was packed with at least 500 people who were overwhelmingly vocal in their opposition to Baird’s new stance. There were also protesters outside calling for Baird to resign.
Jon Soltz, the dKos bully who tried to shut down an anti-surrender soldier, was there to hound Baird.
Oregonlive.com has more:
For more than three hours Monday night, Rep. Brian Baird was verbally flogged by hundreds of his constituents for no longer supporting the quick withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
More than 500 people packed a high school auditorium in Vancouver while another 175 or so were unable to get inside. And virtually everyone who got a chance to address the Vancouver Democrat were harshly critical – including several who said they had been long-time supporters and friends.
“You have just broken my heart,” said Phil Massey, a Vancouver ship’s pilot who wasn’t swayed by Baird’s explanation that the U.S. was finally starting to make some progress in bringing peace to Iraq. “You have screwed up, my friend. You have screwed up and you have to change course.”
That was two hours into the meeting and the crowd was still loaded for bear as the room broke into loud applause. At several points in the evening, Baird simply leaned against the stage with his arms folded, his head down as he let the crowd vent. But he also vigorously disputed several points made by the speakers and defended his independence from the Bush administration. He insisted that he is taking the courageous path.
“The easiest thing in the world would have been to go over there…and just say, using partisan rhetoric, ‘Get out now,'” he said.
This was the first of two town halls Baird is holding in the wake of his about-face on Iraq earlier this month after returning from a trip to the Mideast. His new support for the surge has attracted national headlines and been prominently cited by Republican House leaders as a sign that the U.S. troop surge was starting to pay dividends. Baird, who voted in 2002 against giving President Bush authority to go to war, will also meet constituents at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Cowlitz County Expo Center in Longview.
While some people left the Vancouver meeting saying they respected Baird’s sincerity, the town hall had to have been a particularly brutal experience for the congressman. At several points, he pleaded with the crowd to let him finish his explanation. One woman told him the blood of the troops was now on his hands, and several said he was violating the wishes of his constituents.
“We don’t care what your convictions are,” said Jan Lustig of Vancouver. “You are here to represent us.”
Here is video of Baird in Iraq from his website.