Monday, August 27, 2007

"Report from Vancouver, Washington: Rep. Baird Gets Blasted"

Slog (The Stranger):
This report is being filed by Josh, who’s down in Vancouver. He couldn’t find WiFi in the trendy Uptown Village neighborhood. The Starbucks on the corner of Main was closed and the password at the friendly Ice Cream Renaissance didn’t work, although they let Josh hang out well after closing. He’ll provide a longer report tomorrow, but he phoned this in.
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 he’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.

He was hammered by Jon Soltz, the young, good looking, charismatic chairman and co-founder of political action committee Soltz is also an Iraq war veteran, having served in 2003. Speaking calmly and to raucous applause, he said Baird (who recently returned from a visit to Iraq) was fooled “by a dog and pony show” and is unfortunately providing cover for President Bush.

Afterwards, Soltz told me that his goal is to bring Baird back into the Democratic fold.

Another speaker who brought down the house was Zanne Joi, a Vancouver activist with Code Pink Women for Peace. Joi called Baird “arrogant” for trying to dictate how Iraqis should govern themselves and said the war was only about “American oil profit.”

A third speaker, who also spoke to tremendous applause, was Jane Lustig from Vancouver, whose main complain was that Baird was not representing his constituents’ point of view.

I also talked to several people as they left the auditorium and asked them if they found Baird—who was there to explain his new position—to be persuasive.
To a person, everyone shook their head “no way,” including Doris Holmes, active member of the 18th district Democrats, who said, “He lied. He’s towing the Bush party line. I can’t believe he’s a Democrat.”

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