This week, GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan topped off a critique of President Obama's response to violent demonstrations at American embassies across the Middle East by saying that because of the president's policies, the Middle East "looked like 1979 Tehran" – when demonstrations by Iranian student revolutionaries culminated in the invasion of the US embassy and the taking of 50 hostages in a stand-off that would endure 444 days. It has become all too easy for opponents of Ryan and his boss, Governor Mitt Romney, to level zingers at their foreign policy bloopers, and I had mine all ready: all this does is remind us that Ryan, who was born in 1970 and has no national security experience other than, as he has said, "voting to send our troops to war", has no idea what happened in Teheran in 1979.
But dismissing this soundbite misses the chance to consider two serious assertions that underlie it: first, that what we are seeing in the Middle East right now is a collapse of American policy and interests on a par with how the fall of the Shah and his eventual replacement by a hostile theocracy, the hostage-taking, and the failed rescue effort damaged the US in 1979-80. And second, that it is 1980, "morning in America" again, and Mitt Romney is Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama is Jimmy Carter.
Follow the link to get Heather Hurlburt's take on why Ryan is wrong. I just wanted to point this out as another instance of the "it's always 1979" mantra from Republicans. Just keep this in mind when you hear them talk. Because it seems to be explaining more and more of what they say and do. And in this case, as in most others, it presents a real problem when trying to solve current problems.
And as always, a shout out to Jonathan Bernstein and his blog "A Plain Blog About Politics" for coming up with the "it's always 1979" mantra.