When I heard Ted Cruz boast that that he'll "carpet bomb [ISIS] into oblivion" to see if "sand can glow in the dark," and Donald Trump bloviate about how he plans to "bomb the shit" out of ISIS, I was taken back to January 20, 1981.
I'd taken my family to the Mall to watch the Inauguration of Ronald Reagan. He wasn't going to be another wimp like Jimmy Carter; no, he would get tough with America's enemies, starting with Iran, which had held 52 American diplomats and other citizens hostage for 444 days.
There was a popular joke going around at the time, spread mostly by Republicans, that went like this: What's brown and glows at night? Iran, after Reagan is elected.
Just as Reagan was being sworn in, we heard the news flash. The hostages had been released and were on their way home. Maybe the ayatollahs capitulated because they were scared of what Reagan would do. Republicans and Democrats alike were hoping he'd teach them not to mess with Uncle Sam.
So what did our tough-talking new president do to punish those truly deserving bad guys in Iran?
Bupkis. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Zip. Zero.
Thirty-five years later and the ayatollahs are still swaggering and threatening America, sponsoring terrorism, undermining their neighbors, spreading the Islamic revolution, dreaming of building nuclear weapons and fantasizing about wiping Israel off the map.
Republicans today are complaining about how weak Barack Obama's foreign policy is and how the country needs a heroic figure like Ronald Reagan to return us to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Riding out front of the posse of pretenders are Two-Gun Cowboy Cruz and Putinesque Trump telling us they'll be so tough our enemies will quake in their boots.
I'm still waiting for the he hero who single handedly won the Cold War and made Granada safe for offshore med students to punish the Iranians. Maybe then I might take those two blowhards seriously.