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Dem Congressman: We Were Blinded by Ideology on the Surge

7:24 PM, Aug 27, 2008 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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A Hill aide points out this Seattle Times article, which reports that Democratic congressman Brian Baird is still a pariah in his own party for deciding to back the surge last August:

Brian Baird was lonely enough back when all his Democratic friends thought he was wrong.

But now that it appears he was right - that the Iraq war was going better, as he claimed, and President Bush's troop surge was working - the Southwest Washington congressman is even more of an outcast.

Now nobody much wants to talk to him about Iraq at all.

"After all that extraordinary outrage directed at me, not one person has called me up and said 'Hey, Brian, it looks like you might have had a point after all,' " said Baird, in Denver for his party's national convention this week.

"We say Bush is so blinded by ideology that he ignores the facts in the real world, and that's true," Baird said. "Aren't we doing the same thing? We're being just like Bush."

Baird touched off a furor last August when he effectively switched from the anti-war side by coming out in support of the troop buildup, which Democrats almost universally were trying to block.

I went down to Vancouver last summer to see Baird explain himself to his angry constituents. It was, I wrote, "one of the most severe tongue-lashings I've ever seen administered to a public official, at least face to face."

Six hundred people - from veterans to teachers, from a Columbia River boat captain to a lady who plays bagpipes at soldier funerals - spent nearly four hours calling Baird a sellout, Bush's lap dog, a neocon pet. Some told him to resign.

For all the grief he's taken, it's surprising that Baird is offering sound advice to his colleagues:

"We ought to just say that it worked. People were understandably skeptical of the administration at the time. But we have to acknowledge reality. Do you stay with a political position because it's popular even if it doesn't square with the facts?"

Baird's view is that if "the people in our party advocating for an immediate withdrawal of troops last year had gotten their way, it would have been disastrous for the U.S."