MoveOn deserves a lot of credit for getting members to this town hall meeting...hopefully, Baird will reconsider his Lieber-stance.
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.[..]
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."
Some of the angriest comments came from Vietnam veterans. "I was part of another surge in 1968 (in Vietnam), based on another pack of lies," said Vancouver resident Bob Goss, who served in the Army there. "I really think it's time to get out."