August 29, 2007

The "Maturity Mask" Slips - UPDATED With Embedded YouTube

Hatched by Dafydd

Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA, 80%) has a very, very serious problem: He is a moderately liberal Democrat in a fairly neutral district (WA-3), a district that narrowly went for George Bush in the last two presidential elections. First elected in 1998 by 55%, he won his last three elections by more robust percentages of 62-63%. Baird was handily reelected even in the two years that his district voted for George W. Bush. Cook rates WA-3 as D+0.

He was opposed to the Iraq war from the very beginning, voting against it at every turn.

So what's his problem? Brian Baird's happy career has smashed into the rocks, and the shipwreck began with a dreadful, ghastly decision that Baird made: He foolishly decided to investigate for himself how the counterinsurgency was doing, rather than just taking the word of his leaders, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA, 65%)... or even his Washington colleague, "Baghdad" Jim McDermott (D-WA, 95%), who earned his sobriquet by flying to Baghdad in 2002 to support Saddam Hussein -- then receiving a $5,000 "donation" from Hussein supporter and Oil-for-Fraud suspect Shakir al Khafaji.

Worse, Baird has one terrible character flaw that spoiled everything: He is honest. Upon returning from seeing the counterinsurgency up close and personal, he wrote an opinion piece for the Seattle Times titled "Our troops have earned more time."

Everybody's got one

The opinion piece could hardly be called pro-Bush; in fact, he harshly condemns the original decision to invade -- but concludes that having started this, we cannot now simply walk away:

The invasion of Iraq may be one of the worst foreign-policy mistakes in the history of our nation. As tragic and costly as that mistake has been, a precipitous or premature withdrawal of our forces now has the potential to turn the initial errors into an even greater problem just as success looks possible.

As a Democrat who voted against the war from the outset and who has been frankly critical of the administration and the post-invasion strategy, I am convinced by the evidence that the situation has at long last begun to change substantially for the better. I believe Iraq could have a positive future. Our diplomatic and military leaders in Iraq, their current strategy, and most importantly, our troops and the Iraqi people themselves, deserve our continued support and more time to succeed.

A few paragraphs later, Baird explains why he changed his mind:

It is just not realistic to expect Iraq or any other nation to be able to rebuild its government, infrastructure, security forces and economy in just four years. Despite the enormous challenges, the fact is, the situation on the ground in Iraq is improving in multiple and important ways....

Our soldiers are reclaiming ground and capturing or killing high-priority targets on a daily basis. Sheiks and tribal groups are uniting to fight against the extremists and have virtually eliminated al-Qaida from certain areas. The Iraqi military and police are making progress in their training, taking more responsibility for bringing the fight to the insurgents and realizing important victories. Businesses and factories that were once closed are being reopened and people are working again. The infrastructure is gradually being repaired and markets are returning to life....

[T]o walk away now from the recent gains would be to lose all the progress that has been purchased at such a dear price in lives and dollars.

At this point, I'm sure you're all scratching your heads (that is, assuming you haven't already been following the story). Come come, ab Hugh; what is this "very, very serious problem" you keep yammering about?

The problem is that even this slight disagreement with "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" is considered apostasy... and the Democrats (actually, itself!) have turned on Baird with the ferocity usually reserved for Whittaker Chambers, Ronald Reagan, and Ann Coulter. According to Aaron Blake at the Washington D.C. insider newspaper the Hill:

Rep. Brian Baird’s (D-Wash.) recent conversion on the Iraq war is beginning to affect more than the national dialogue. On Wednesday, liberal group announced an ad campaign against the congressman in his own district.

Baird recently returned from a trip to Iraq and reversed his position on a withdrawal timetable, citing military progress in the four-year-old war.

MoveOn is calling the move a “flip-flop” and says it goes against the views of his constituents.

Flip flops vs. changing one's mind

There is a monumental difference between a flip-flop -- changing position because the old position became unpopular -- and wising up, changing position because of new and better information and "thinking a second time," as Dennis Prager puts it.

When John Kerry was against the $87 billion after being for it, he cited no new evidence that the troops should not be supported; he was responding to the yowling set up by the nutroots. But this cannot be the model for Brian Baird... for, as the Politico notes:

“Congressman Baird’s new position, in favor of keeping our troops in an unnwinnable civil war in Iraq, is out of line with the majority of his district and the nation,” said MoveOn's Nita Chaudhary in a statement. “Voters don’t want to continue down a failed path. They want representatives who will stand up to President Bush’s reckless policy and bring our troops home.”

This is likely true: Since the war is still unpopular among a majority of the nation, and since WA-3 is more or less a mirror of America, it's likely the case that a majority of Baird's constituents want to see a troop withdrawal. But of course, a majority of Baird's constituents have never been to Iraq to see for themselves.

Even if the constituents are nowhere near as angry and shrill as those who showed up at the townhall meeting (see below), certainly they're not enthusiastic about staying in Iraq; and Baird must have known that they would not be happy. Therefore, this is an example of Baird wising up, not flip flopping.

What is a man?

But the deeper question is whether your duty as a representative is to "represent" your district at the expense of your own ideas and conscience... or to be your own man or woman, make your own best judgment, and presume that if the voters dislike your choices, you'll hear about it at the next election.

I believe John Adams was in the first camp, believing that being a representative was an act of self-abnegation, becoming nothing more than the mouth of your constituents. Of course, that creates a problem in a mixed district; to truly represent his constituents, the representative must suffer from multiple-personality disorder!

I have always been in the second camp: We don't live in a direct, mob-rule democrazy... we elect a person, not an automaton. I want my representative to exercise his best judgment -- and then I'll exercise mine in even-numbered years.

Most constituents, alas, tend to follow Adams, not ab Hugh; this appears to be true in WA-3 -- at least among those constituents who attend town-hall meetings. Baird attended just such a nutmoot in Vancouver, WA, where he was mauled by orcs -- metaphorically speaking, of course. (Amusing detour: Baird joked, "Somebody said to me, 'Oh man, you're going to get killed tonight. I said, 'No, they get killed in Iraq. I'm going to get criticized.'")

But we have no way of knowing whether that meeting was truly representative of the district, or whether packed the joint with its own sock puppets, a prank leftists are overly fond of playing.

Arguing for the sock-puppet interpretation:

  • The generally moderate nature of WA-3;
  • A huge percentage of the attendees arrived with anti-war protest signs, many pre-printed, some with Baird's name -- just a week after Baird announced his change of mind. That betokens organization.
  • One of the attendees was none other than Jon Soltz, the anti-war activist, chairman of, and the former Army captain on a panel at YearlyKos who shouted down the uniformed sergeant who tried to ask the very question that has vexed Brian Baird: What should we do if the counterinsurgency works, regardless of previous position on the war? I do not believe that Jon Soltz lives in Vancouver, or even in Washington state; if a reader has information that he does, please let me know.

    But assuming he does not, that means he was transported there by somebody (either his own organization or perhaps MoveOn) in order to confront Baird. And if somebody is willing to go to that much trouble for Soltz, perhaps that same "somebody" is also willing to ensure that the audience was packed with the "right sort" of constituent.

I believe there is ample reason to doubt that the attendees really represent the third district of Washington. In the meantime, MoveOn has announced that it's going to run an anti-Baird ad campaign in his district, presumably hoping for someone much further Left to beat Baird in the primary. (If they succeed, that previously safe district may become vulnerable to a moderate Republican.)

Convenient Lies in Advertising

I'm sure nobody reading this blog is surprised to learn that MoveOn's ad is deeply dishonest. From the piece in the Hill:

The ad does not make specific reference to Baird’s conversion. Instead, it features a soldier who served in Iraq talking about the amount of resistance troops encountered and at the end asks viewers to tell Baird to bring the troops home.

The soldier in the ad served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 and describes a scene from that time, long before the current troop increase that Baird has cited as the reason for military progress.

Baird voted against the war in 2003 and had opposed it until last month. Republicans have been quick to key on his remarks as evidence of progress in Iraq.

MoveOn disagrees, calling the war “unwinnable.”

This is, of course, a monumental (and dishonest) non-sequitur:

  • Baird is saying that he was against the war from 2003 to early 2007 and supported withdrawal; but now that he has seen the results of the counterinsurgency in mid-late 2007, he no longer supports withdrawal and thinks the troops "deserve" the chance to finish the job.
  • In response, MoveOn says that the fighting was really intense in 2003-2004... so how dare Baird support continuing the fight in 2007!

I haven't seen the ad itself, so I cannot tell whether it makes clear that the soldier's only experience is long before the counterinsurgency phase. (Nor can I tell whether the "soldier" in the MoveOn ad is or is not -- Jon Stolz.) I went to MoveOn's site, but I cannot find the advert there; nor can I find a search function. Eventually, I'm sure it will appear on YouTube.

UPDATE: And here it is! Hat tip to my favorite blogger, John Hinderaker, on my favorite blog, Power Line:

No, the soldier is not Jon Soltz; but no, the advert does not make it clear that the incident described happened back in 2003 or 2004... not recently. While former Sergeant John Bruhns is speaking, white words appear briefly over the bottom of his image reading "John Bruhns, US Army Infantry Sergeant, Baghdad 2003 - '04." That's the only clue.

In the voiceover at the end, a tough-sounding man's voice says "Support our troops; bring them home." Baird's name is not mentioned in the audio; but the words that appear on the screen include "Tell Rep. Baird."

By the way, here is another level of mendacity in this advert: Sgt. Bruhns talks about a protest "in the Abu Ghraib market area" where rioters began shooting at U.S. troops. He goes on to lament that "we were told that we were there to liberate these people; they were shooting at us!"

What Bhuhns and MoveOn fail to mention is that Abu Ghraib is in Anbar province; it was a hotbed of Saddamites before the war (the prison was used by Hussein to house dissidents and others who opposed his rule). If there were a violent riot in Abu Ghraib, it would almost certainly be driven either by "bitter-ender" Baathists or by al-Qaeda.

Contrary to what Bruhns says, those were not the people that we were sent to Iraq to liberate. Those were the oppressors during Hussein's reign, and it's hardly surprising that they should see Americans as their enemies... after all, we had just dislodged them from their well-feathered nests.

(And I'll bet former Nazis didn't like the American presence in Germany after World War II, either.)

Tell me about the rabbits, George...

Since the first surge of Communism in the 1920s (!), the most damaging charge against Democrats has always been that they act like extremely immature teenagers: emotional, unthinking, hormonally driven, and secure in the belief that they are the smartest people in the world... but ultimately acting from pure narcissism.

The accusation is damaging precisely because it's true, and this is a probative example: Baird is not a Bush supporter; he hates Bush almost to BDS levels. He is positively Murthian on the question of whether we should have gone into Iraq at all, calling it "one of the worst foreign-policy mistakes in the history of our nation."

Worse than World War I, where we jumped into a -- dare I say it -- quagmire in Europe that had already killed millions of people, soldier and civilian? In hindsight, maybe it was good we joined: We broke the stalemate and brought the war to a close, at a cost of a scant 115,000 American soldiers killed. But Woodrow Wilson -- who had campaigned on the slogan "He kept us out of the war" -- did not know that would be the result when he ordered us into the fight.

But if we allow hindsight, then how can Baird say today that it's "one of the worst foreign-policy mistakes in the history of our nation?" You can't call upon hindsight until the even is behind you.

Yet even with all this, all it takes is a single instance of not obeying orders, and MoveOn calls up the fanatics to measure Baird's beard and make sure his turban is wound the correct way, on pain of Lieber-tatation... just as happened in 2006, when Sen. Joe Lieberman became Independent-CT, rather than Democrat-CT, after a vicious and fraudulent campaign against him by the nutroots resulted in a primary loss to Ned Lamont. This is like the adolescent who gets almost exactly the iPod he wanted for Christmas... but because it's only 1GB instead of 4GP, he rages that it's totally worthless -- and smashes it on the ground.

Democrats with their eyes on 2008 have tried very hard to act like mature adults this cycle. But with this hysterical overreaction to a slight deviation from the liberal catechism, the mask of maturity has slipped to the floor, revealing them for the authoritarian martinets that they naturally are.

It seems that every time the Democrats have the opportunity to climb out the hole they've dug themselves, there is always at least one group of fools whose immediate and ill-considered response is instead to furiously dig the hole deeper.

Insha'Allah, this will be our salvation a year from November.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 29, 2007, at the time of 4:46 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Fritz

Like you I have always thought that if the founding fathers had wanted a democracy, they would have set the United States up as a democracy. Thankfully they were much smarter than that and instead set up a republic. By doing so they intended for the representatives to use their best judgment on issues confronting the country, not what political polls might show. The really sad thing is that many people are so poorly educated that they don't know how the government is supposed to work, but that doesn't stop them braying long and loudly as if they did.
The Democrats are caught in their own trap. They lied about the Iraq war and their positions on it. Not all of course, but many. The problem they face is they had nothing but a hatred for Bush and never faced the thought that if they managed to get control of congress they would have to rule. Now the chickens are coming home to roost and the Democrats are going to be forced to put up or shut up. They are also faced with the problem that there are still some within their party who are Americans first and Democrats second. Again, not many but a few. As an aside, there are far too many within the Republican party who are Republicans first and Americans second, so I'm an equal opportunity critic. Anyhow, owing to their fear of being proven what they are, the Democrats must try to destroy any who do not follow the party line for fear that if the average citizen realized how much the Democrat's opposition to the war has actually cost in terms of lives and money, they would never win another election. It is my contention that had the Democrats not encouraged Al-Qaeda through their actions, the problems within Iraq would have been solved by now. By presenting the United States as divided and on the verge of pulling out, the Democrats gave hope to Al-Queda which kept them going. Those same words and actions have enabled Iran to act in a far different manner than they would have had such words and actions not taken place. Frankly they are acting as traitors who hide beneath the cloak of saying that issues need to be debated. It is true that issues need to be debated, and had the Democrats acted in an honorable manner, they could have had such debates, but instead of debating honestly, they argued over the intelligence leading up to the war and tried to say that they were misled. An honest debate on the war, once it was underway, would have been on how best to proceed, not what happened in the run up to it, and would have also included a little honesty on what people like Hillary and other Democrats were saying long before George Bush was even a candidate for president. And were there some honesty in the media, the Democrat's lies would be exposed for what they are, but the media has its own problems with biases and honesty. After all, how can you believe a media that still thinks they got the reporting of Katrina right? or that isn't appalled that so many people believe that 9/11 was an evil plot by Carl Rove to insure Bush's re-election? that same media who can't even get a sixteen word quote from Bush's state of the union speech right?
If it wouldn't be so costly to the country, the Republicans should simply say the Democrats won the election and so they should be allowed to do what they want and that the Republicans will not vote or oppose the Democrats in any way. Then the people would soon see what the Democrats are actually all about which should insure a reasonably quick death to the Democrat Party. By reasonable, I don't think it would take much over ten years or so which is short in the history of nations. With the present crop of elected Democrats, I don't think it would take much more than that. There are simply too few within the party who are willing to think and act in the best interests of the country. The Republicans are almost as bad.

The above hissed in response by: Fritz [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 29, 2007 9:29 PM

The following hissed in response by: Nels Nelson

To be fair to Baird, "one of the worst" is not the same as "worst". He could very well agree with you about World War I. The Iraq War could even be fourth or fifth on his list.

The above hissed in response by: Nels Nelson [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2007 1:44 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Nels Nelson:

Just once, I would like to hear a liberal opponent of the war demonstrate a proper understanding of why we invaded Iraq: What we hoped to accomplish, what was the reasoning, and what would be the victory conditions under such a scenario.

He wouldn't have to agree that this was a valid reason to go to war; but I want to see at least one anti-warrior who has had sufficient curiosity to read pro-war materials and understand the argument, even those he rejects.

I am so sick of "debates" with people whose ideas of why we went to war (if they think about it at all) are pathetic caricatures: "to steal the oil," "to punish Iraq for being behind 9/11," "to enslave the entire world," "to justify shredding the Bill of Rights," "to support Israel."

Just show me one leftie who can at least articulate a rational reason to go to war in Iraq, and I won't even care if he rejects it in the next breath.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2007 4:23 AM

The following hissed in response by: LarryD

They managed to defeat Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Conn. So Joe ran in the general election as an Independent and won.

But I really don't mind if the netroot crowd purges the Democratic Party. If the adults aren't going to take their party back, then forcing them out is the only way to create a sane opposition party, and we need one.

The above hissed in response by: LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2007 6:47 AM

The following hissed in response by: Hraland

I live in WA-3, I haven't voted for Congressman Baird, nor will I potentially vote for him in the future.

Having said that, I sent him a note yesterday, letting him know that the people at the meeting he attended earlier this week are not all of his constituents. He has shown that when presented with facts and seeing first hand the progress that is being made in Iraq that there is nothing wrong with changing one of his positions on our future involvement.

He hasn't changed his opinion about whether we should have gone into Iraq, he has only changed his opinion about what we should do now. 3 years ago, things were not looking so good for our's or the Iraqi prospects of making order come out of that disorder and even I was questioning whether we should stay or not. Never made up my mind on that.

Now, Gen. Patreaus, has taken the bull by the horns, made some progress (large in some areas, smaller in others) and things do not look so bad any longer. Congressman Baird has been to Iraq and the ME on multiple occasions and has seen the changes and accordingly has decided that it would be wrong to precipitously withdraw our troops and support of the Iraqi people. So what does he get for using his brain? Crucified by his own party. What a bunch of hypocrits.

People at that meeting were too emotional to have given any consideration to the fact that someone with more in-theater experience than they have, could come to a different conclusion about what we should or shouldn't do in support of Iraq. So, to them I say, get a clue. Do some research, go to Iraq, the military will be happy to help you get there and show you around. Then come back here and tell Congressman Baird that he is wrong. Until then SHUT UP.

Just my $0.02.

The above hissed in response by: Hraland [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2007 9:13 AM

The following hissed in response by: levi from queens

I did a Yahoo people search on Jon Soltz. It returned two 30 year olds named Jonathan D. Soltz, both residing on the east coast or mid-south. This is hardly proof that somebody flew him in, but it is a start.

The above hissed in response by: levi from queens [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2007 9:53 AM

The following hissed in response by: David M

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 08/30/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

The above hissed in response by: David M [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2007 9:59 AM

The following hissed in response by: BarbaraS

I hate to tell you Daffd but there is no such animal. In all the time I have been on the internet, I have not seen one liberal who was rational. They try to act as if they are but the are given away when they open their mouths. You can argue with them until you are blue in the face but they will not face the fact that black is not white, that truth is not lie. They never let facts impede their progress to triviality.

The above hissed in response by: BarbaraS [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2007 10:48 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

It is an odd world.

Republican: "I have made a grave error when I lied, and I apologize. I believe that lying is wrong, and I should never have done so."

Democrat: "Sure I lied to everyone, but I don't believe lying is wrong, so I have nothing to apologize for. Oh, yeah, and the Republican is a hypocrite."

Who do you think will get tossed from office?

In the absence of morals, the greatest sin becomes hypocrisy. Also, anyone who believes in morals is by definition a hypocrite, since who is a saint among us? This is why they hate Republicans so,and reserve special animosity for the religious right.

In my experience liberalness also correlates strongly with prejudice. I use prejudice in the classic sense - they prejudge people based on color, sexual preference, schools, education, religion, etc. Deviation from the belief set that they have assigned to each group is then automatically classified as hypocrisy.

In liberal eyes, to be African-American and against affirmative action is hypocrisy. To be gay and against gay marriage is hypocrisy. And to dislike Bush, but agree to his Iraq policy is hypocrisy.

This explains a lot of behavior. Liberals can't ever get the facts right, or debate something honestly, because the facts and honesty are just not all that important. What is important is hypocricy and prejudice. When you are not what I have decided you should be, you are a hypocrite.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2007 11:49 AM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

You have to give the guy credit for doing what he thinks is right. I respect that.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2007 3:46 PM

The following hissed in response by: cdquarles

You have to give the guy credit for doing what he thinks is right. I respect that.

That, my friends, is why the Stalinists decree that Trotsky must die.

The above hissed in response by: cdquarles [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2007 8:42 PM

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