Sep 23, 2007

lessons of the Brian Baird visit

In case you missed it, Baird came to Capital High School this past Friday, defending his Iraq War conversion experience and taking flak from anti-war protesters. It took me a couple days to digest the experience. Here are some of my observations, distilled and purified.

1. The left seems ready to sacrifice one of the more reasonable members of Congress out of sheer fury. Who's going to replace Baird, though? Not someone from the Green Party, that's for sure. "Intuitive faith" won't get us out of this mess.

2. This debate coach was impressed by Baird's handling of the situation. He was almost unflappable in the face of unrelenting criticism and emotional tirades. Baird got a little heated, though, when comparing fired-up locals to those who actually have "skin in the game." Baird was merciless with one commentator, who had called him out for "not representing his constituents." The Congressman shot back, "So should I have voted to go to war back when it was popular?"

3. A whole lot of folks need a course in basic logic, rhetoric, and argumentation. I'm fully convinced that Debate should be a required class in high school. For the sake of democracy.

4. Speaking of democracy, it's hard to know exactly what was accomplished Friday night. People vented, which I suppose could be healthy, but Baird didn't appear about to change his mind. Maybe that's good for T.J. Johnson's political career, as Emmett O'Connell notes, but it's not changing the situation on the ground in Iraq, or in the halls of Congress. There were scads of choir-preaching, and strong feelings of solidarity, but precious few minds changed.

5. An open mike without a time limit is an invitation to disaster.

6. If you say you're not going to respond to hecklers, you just have to rein it in and absolutely refuse to respond to hecklers. Not even once. If you can't resist zinging in a quick comeback, the floodgates open.

7. Thank God the air conditioning worked.

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