In this March 19, 1987 file photo, President Reagan gestures during a news conference at the White House in Washington.
Dennis Cook, File/AP Photo

Rand Paul vows to follow Reagan’s poor example on Iran

A critically important international debate unfolded last week once a framework was in place to curtail Iran’s nuclear program. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), however, skipped the argument, remaining silent while on vacation.
The senator did, however, broach the subject in his presidential announcement speech in Kentucky this afternoon:
“I envision a national defense that promotes, as Reagan put it, ‘peace through strength.’
“I believe in applying Ronald Reagan’s approach to foreign policy to the Iran issue. Successful negotiations with untrustworthy adversaries are only achieved from a position of strength.”
You know, there was a point – say, around 1987 – when the very idea of a Republican presidential candidate emulating Reagan’s policy towards Iran probably seemed rather ridiculous.
After all, Reagan’s the one who tried to illegally sell weapons to Iran, in exchange for hostages, in order to finance an illegal war in Central America. Reagan was caught lying about his administration’s criminal scheme, and 14 members of his national security team, including his Defense Secretary, faced multiple felony counts in one of the most serious scandals in American history.
Rand Paul wants to apply “Reagan’s approach to foreign policy to the Iran issue”? Does Rand Paul remember Iran-Contra? How about Reagan cutting and running from Iran’s allies in Lebanon?
Jon Chait added:
If there is such a thing as negotiating with Iran from a position of weakness, though, it would probably take the form of a deal in which we promise to give Iran more weapons in return for it letting some of our captives go free.
But a Reagan skeptic fails to grasp the higher truths of the Reagan cult that are apparent to the Republican Party. It is a truism for the faithful that all of Reagan’s beliefs were correct, even the Reagan beliefs that contradicted other Reagan beliefs. Likewise all of Reagan’s actions projected strength and are worthy of emulation, even his underhanded appeasement of a radical regime that led to a massive scandal. Even Reagan’s appeasement projected strength. That’s just how great he was.
It’s turning into an interesting week for uninformed Reagan acolytes, isn’t it? Some of them don’t remember his economic record nearly as well as they think they do, and some of them obviously don’t remember his foreign policy record well, either.
At this rate, I half-expect Republicans to argue tomorrow that Ronaldus Magnus lowered the national debt, too, despite Reagan adding to the debt at a pace unseen in modern times.