The Unanswered Question For Baird Remains:
“What have you learned from the 3rd district’s constituents this month that will cause you to behave differently in representing them when you return to DC?”
According to an article in Thursday’s edition of The Columbian, “U.S. Rep Brian Baird closed out a tumultuous congressional recess Wednesday with a final town hall meeting before a capacity crowd at the Corbet Theatre in Centralia.” I’d say that The Columbian’s use of the word “tumultuous”, though not inaccurate, is putting it mildly. Here are some of the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your perspective) of Brian Baird’s visit to Southwest Washington during the Congressional August Recess of 2009:
§On July 31st, just as the recess was beginning, Victoria Taft, KPAM 860AM Radio’s evening drive-time Talk Show Host, interviewed Baird. When she asked about his plans for Town Halls during this critical time, Baird’s responses revealed that what he had in mind was more of what I have termed “Brian Baird’s Stealth Town Halls” … something I first commented on in an article this past April entitled ‘How Does “Baird Marketing Baird” Fit With Representing His Congressional District?’
§Baird’s leading opponent for the 2010 congressional race, Republican Candidate Jon Russell, announced his schedule for a series of Town Halls he would be holding throughout the 3rd District, “to give voters the oportunity to be heard.”
§On August 7th, still refusing to meet with constituents face-to-face, Baird, still claiming to be “The King of Town Halls”, conducted a “Telephone Town Hall” in Clark County. Notable aspects of this included:
o In commenting on a related article in The Columbian, Larch Mountain’s Pam Benson said she realizes Baird disagrees with her on health care reform but the lack of town hall meetings makes her feel angrier and more helpless. She went on to say, “He’s supposed to be our representative. He’s supposed to listen to us, whether he’s on our side or not.”
o One of the handfull of callers who actually got to speak to Baird was Nansen Malin, Chair of the Pacific County (WA) Republican Party. She said “Come here to Seaview. I will host a Town Hall in my living room. We can disagree and still have a conversation. I will be your bodyguard.” Baird’s response was “I will take you up on that.” However, though he strung her along on this promise for most of the rest of the month, he ended up rejecting her offer.
§Finally, on August 18th, Brian Baird came out of hiding to face voters. Over midway through the Congressional August Recess Baird gave in to political pressure (in particular, the pressure of having his Republican opponent schedule Town Halls while he was refusing to do so) and the related bad press he was getting on this, to hold a “Health Care Town Hall” at the Clark County Fairgrounds Amphitheater. Some of the more remarkable moments of this event were:
o Baird being taken to task on several occasions for having referred to those attending Town Halls as “Brownshirts” and likening them to Timothy McVeigh.
o A Vancouver woman, who first quoted the Patriot, Patrick Henry and then said, “It seems to me that most of the time lately our Congressmen and Representatives have been representing the President to the people instead of representing the people to the President.” Baird made no response to the woman’s implied question but, in response to her quoting one of our great Patriots, he threw in that his kids’ middle names are Washington and Franklin.
o The Marine Corps Vet who told Baird to “Stay away from my kids!” and asked him, regarding the oath he has taken to defend the Constitution, “Do you ever intend to keep (your oath)?”
For the balance of August, from Baird’s first appearance at the Clark County Fairgrounds Amphitheater to this last event in Centralia, it seemed to continue like this. The consituents of Washington’s 3rd Congressional District kept showing up, hoping that the one charged to be their Representative would truly hear them. Sadly, they just continued to see a Career Politician trying to make lemonade from lemons his misrepresentation has produced. One of the clearest examples of this was when Baird was questioned about his support for the ARRA (AKA the stimulus bill). One speaker was Gordon Johns, an ophthalmologist from Chehalis, who said, “We’re responsible, we raise our kids, we pay our taxes, we vote, we go to church, we contribute to charity, but then we do all of these things, and when other people who don’t live the same lifestyle don’t follow those same principals, we are asked to bail them out.” Although Johns received a standing ovation, Baird ended up responding by saying that by no means did he agree with everything in the bill, adding that when the votes are already locked in for a bill he has to weigh the benefits of going against it. Then he said, “If I go to the speaker of the House and say, ‘There is no way I would ever vote for this bill. This is what I want,’ it’s not going to work.” In other words, pleasing Nancy Pelosi will continue to be his priority over representing the people of Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. So …
… for the Vancouver woman who raised the implied question: “It seems to me that most of the time lately our Congressmen and Representatives have been representing the President to the people instead of representing the people to the President” … Baird’s response seems to be … Don’t expect to see any change in him with this.
… and, to my question: “What have you learned from the 3rd district’s constituents this month that will cause you to behave differently in representing them when you return to DC?” … Baird’s response seems to be … Nothing!