Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Real Courage

It's really not common to find real courage on the left. Few from that side of the ideological divide dare to stray from the party line. To understand the lockstepping regimentation of the left, take a look at the treatment Washington's Brian Baird has endured since allowing his conscience and facts influence his position on Iraq.

It’s rather lonely being Rep. Brian Baird these days. Your erstwhile allies are trashing you. Your enemies are rejoicing. Your friends can offer little more than gallows humor.

A month after Baird, a Democrat from Washington state, switched his views on Iraq and embraced President Bush’s surge strategy, he remains persona non grata in many circles.

At home, he is besieged by angry protesters and hostile ads.

In the Capitol, many of his colleagues are still smarting over his turnaround, charging that it gave fodder to Republicans and undermined the Democrats’ momentum to force a troop withdrawal.

“He clearly has been exploited by the administration to advance their position. I think that was very unfortunate and, frankly, misguided,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

Taking an unpopular stand in politics is rarely simple, and it’s even less so when you oppose your own party’s leadership on the most divisive issue of the day.

Over the past month, Baird has had to endure a fierce reaction to his change of heart, from the chaos of a rancorous town hall meeting to the seething disapproval of Democratic leaders to the raised eyebrows of his Democratic peers.

But he remains unapologetic.

“I had seen firsthand significant changes on the ground in the region,” he said in an interview, “and I felt a responsibility to state that, because it seemed like that was a perspective that was not being voiced.”

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