IT’S ALWAYS MORNING IN AMERICA…. Once in a while, misplaced Reagan worship is even more cringe-worthy than usual.
John McCain, for example, reflecting on U.S. “moral support” towards Iranians, told Sean Hannity last night, “You and I are both students of history and we’ve seen this movie before. When Ronald Reagan stood up for the workers in Gdansk in Poland, when he stood up for the people of Czechoslovakia, in Prague Spring, and America did. And some good Democrats did, too.”
He wasn’t kidding.
Let’s put aside the notion that neither McCain nor Hannity are “students of history,” and consider how foolish the senator’s remarks were on their face. Ben Armbruster notes McCain’s calendar-centered confusion.
Perhaps McCain needs a new history lesson. The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia when Communist Party leader Alexander Dubcek allowed greater speech and assembly freedoms when he came to power … in January 1968. Ronald Reagan had just completed his first year as California’s governor at that time. Soviet and other Warsaw Pact troops invaded eight months later to end the reform movement. […]
If McCain and company are going to continue to rely on Reagan for guidance, they should at least try to maintain the correct historical time-line.
Right. In fact, this constant talk comparing ongoing developments in Iran with Reagan and Eastern Europe is utterly ridiculous. As Hilzoy noted the other night, “We can debate how important Reagan’s various pronouncements about Eastern Europe were, but I do not recall anyone suggesting that they would not be welcomed by Eastern European dissidents, or would harm their cause. In [Iran’s] case, [presidential pronouncements] could do real harm, which is why no Iranian human rights activists and opposition leaders that I’m aware of have called on Obama to speak out. Question: do the people who make these arguments not know this? If they don’t — if they really believe that the question how Obama should respond is in any way like the question how Reagan should have responded to Eastern Europe — then they are completely ignorant of Iran’s history, and have no business commenting at all.”
I’d just add one final thought. We’re talking about the same Ronald Reagan who sold Iran’s regime weapons and sent Rumsfeld to Iraq to get chummy with Saddam Hussein after the Butcher of Baghdad used chemical weapons to attack civilians in his own country.
Something for the “students of history” to keep in mind.