Monday, March 27, 2023

Republicans have been bad for decades

Republicans may have gone full fascist in their support for Trump and his attempt to overthrow the government and be installed as dictator for life, but this right-wing authoritarianism isn't a new development. Even though Congressional Republicans did their duty and were instrumental in getting Nixon to resign, it was in the late seventies that the Republican party began the long march to an anti-democratic, authoritarian party.

This is just appalling on many levels.

. . . a story in the New York Times this weekend by Texas politician Ben Barnes, who says he toured the Middle East in 1980 on behalf of the Ronald Reagan campaign urging the Iranian government not to release American hostages being held in Tehran until after the election to avoid giving then-President Jimmy Carter a political win. Because Ronald Reagan, patron saint of the Republican Party, was more than happy to let 52 Americans rot in captivity through January if it ensured his political victory in November.

In 1980, Barnes was just 41, but he was already a seasoned Democratic politician. He'd been speaker of the Texas House and lieutenant governor of Texas when he flew to the Middle East in the company of his mentor, former Texas Governor John Connally Jr. Connally, a former Democrat who switched parties, had unsuccessfully challenged Reagan for the Republican nomination. According to Barnes, Connally wanted to be secretary of state and was willing to leave the hostages in danger to torpedo Carter's chances of holding the White House.

Mr. Connally, he said, took him to one Middle Eastern capital after another that summer, meeting with a host of regional leaders to deliver a blunt message to be passed to Iran: Don’t release the hostages before the election. Mr. Reagan will win and give you a better deal.

Then shortly after returning home, Mr. Barnes said, Mr. Connally reported to William J. Casey, the chairman of Mr. Reagan’s campaign and later director of the Central Intelligence Agency, briefing him about the trip in an airport lounge.


The Iran Hostage situation was one of the biggest American catastrophes of the seventies and the idea that the Reagan campaign actively worked to prolong the suffering of the hostages, at the risk of their lives, and with the loss of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian in the ill-fated rescue attempt, is just horrifying. It shows a sociopathic mindset where political power is more important than American lives. In other words, modern Republicanism.

It's not surprising that we ended up where we are today. 

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