Nearly two weeks ago, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), who voted against the initial invasion of Iraq, returned from a two-day trip to the war-torn country, proclaiming that “we’re making real progress” in Iraq and that the escalation should be extended “at least into early next year.” Baird expanded upon his new position in an op-ed for the Seattle Times.
As Atrios has noted, until he started supporting Bush’s escalation, Baird had chosen to stay out of the Iraq debate’s media spotlight. But now that he’s calling for “six to eight more” months of escalation, there doesn’t appear to be a camera or microphone that Baird will refuse to speak to.
Baird has engaged in a media blitz, giving at least five mainstream media interviews to promote his pro-war line, including two on national television:
“I have come to believe that calls for premature withdrawal may make it more difficult for Iraqis to solve their problems.” [The Columbian, 8/17/07]
“I think we’re making real progress.” [The Olympian, 8/17/07]
“There’s a long way to go but the progress is real.” [Seattle Times, 8/20/07]
Six to eight more months can make a “very important difference in the ability of the Iraqi government to resolve some of its difficulties.” [All Things Considered, 8/21/07]
“I think six more months of American troops can help stabilize and secure the situation.” [CNN's The Situation Room, 8/24/07]
Pro-war pundits and politicians quickly latched onto his comments. Baird reciprocated by granting interviews to three explicitly conservative outlets, helping to promote their agenda for an open-ended commitment in Iraq:
“A precipitous withdrawal at this point would probably be at least as big of a mistake as the initial invasion itself was.” [The Lars Larson Show, 8/21/07]
“My own belief is that we are making progress and that Ambassador Crocker, General Petraeus and the troops on the ground need time and breathing space.” [MSNBC's Tucker, 8/21/07]
“A six-month extension of this current troop strength is worth the risk, even though I know it’s uncertain and I know we will lose more good lives and more money.” [National Review Online, 8/25/07]
While the media has trumpeted Baird’s pro-war position, the war criticisms offered by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) after she returned from Iraq — and those criticisms of members of the 82nd Airborne — have received comparably far less attention.
UPDATE: Jane Hamsher has more.