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Joe Biden was right all along when he said that the next President would face a major challenge in his first several months in office. Every single President who has taken office since FDR has been faced with a major challenge or crisis that defined who they were. FDR was challenged with a Great Depression that nearly tore this country apart. Truman was faced with the decision on whether or not to use the atomic bomb. Eisenhower was confronted with the Korean War. Kennedy was faced with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Johnson was confronted with Vietnam. Nixon was confronted with Vietnam as well as who to pick for the next SCOTUS Chief Justice. Ford was confronted with what to do about Nixon. Carter was confronted with what to do with the Panama Canal. Reagan was confronted with the Soviet Union's shooting down of a commercial airliner which had strayed into its territory. Bush I was confronted with Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. Clinton was confronted with Haiti and Somalia. Bush II was confronted with 9/11.

All of these international crises helped define our Presidents and helped shape the course of their administration. So, when Michael Reagan claims that Biden was hinting that Obama would not be up to the challenge of Iran, he is way out in left field. This is a matter of a desperate Republican commentator so desparate, he is grasping at straws and willing to put words in other peoples' mouths. Those of us in the real world know that Joe Biden was saying nothing about Obama or his readiness to tackle challenges like this -- in fact, he was saying that would be the case if John McCain were to win. As Reagan rightly points out, there will be people who will test our resolve. The problem is that they are going to do so regardless of who the next President is going to be.

Reagan then wrings his hands over why America is not alarmed at the prospect of (his characterization) a young and naive and inexperienced President who wants to talk with Iran. I suggest that the reason is clear -- the fact of the matter is that for a long time, the Bush administration has issued one phony terror alert after another, along with numerous fake military offensives to "prove" that they were actually doing something, along with the 50 or so different Al-Qaeda Number Threes who were supposedly going to break the power of the enemy. But in answer to his question, the reason that Americans are not alarmed, besides the fact that Obama has proven his judgment through his opposition to Iraq, is the fact that the Bush administration has cried wolf so many times that the American public has become desensitized to terror alerts. Even if Reagan is right and Obama is completely naive and unready to respond to the challenges that will confront him, the Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves for this precadiment. The only advice I have for them at this point is to read about the story of the Boy who Cried Wolf.

Reagan then goes on to compare Obama to Kennedy and argues that the difference between Kennedy and Obama is the fact that Kennedy had military experience and the fact that he witnessed the events that led to World War II first-hand. But the reader not familiar with Republican propaganda as such will have to get used to the typical Republican tactic of revising history when the facts are not convenient for their arguments. He characterizes Kennedy's college thesis, "While England Slept," as an argument for a hawkish response to the Nazi threat. But in fact, Kennedy was one of the few people of the time who supported Chamberlin's policy of appeasement, arguing that an earlier confrontation with the Germans would have been disastrous in the long run. And look how that paper shaped Kennedy's thinking, by Reagan's own admission:

It was only after JFK promised to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey and pledged to halt all efforts to remove Fidel Castro from power that Khrushchev agreed to take his missiles out of Cuba.

And it could be argued that Kennedy shaped Obama's thinking:

I am not against all wars; I am against dumb wars.

Kennedy talked to the Soviet Union; Obama would talk to Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and other such countries. Obama, like Kennedy (who experienced first-hand the horrors of war), would not resort to war except as a tool of last resort. Reagan claims that "we cannot afford another such crisis," but the fact of the matter is that these crises come regardless of who is in charge. We can't retreat to the cozy confines of isolationism, regardless of Ron Paul's fantasies; we can't turn ourselves into the world's international policeman. For better or worse, people still look to us for direction and leadership. And that means that we must work with the system of international alliances that we set up after World War II so that we would never again experience another world war.

Reagan once again shows his Republican historical revisionism by claiming that the reason the Iranians released the hostages was because they were scared of his father. But that is sheer conjecture on his part. If Mr. Reagan wants to campaign for John McCain based on conjecture, then so be it. But this is just a small example of how Republicans rewrite history when the facts do not suit their right-wing propaganda. Other prime examples are the claim that Saddam bombed the World Trade Center, or that Obama is a Muslim, or that there is some grand conspiracy between Iran, Iraq, and North Korea against us, or that there is some grand conspiracy by the Muslims to undermine our Western Civilization. Usually, when someone assumes that there is some grand conspiracy against them, that means that they did something wrong. And it is hardly surprising that the Republicans engage in paranoid conspiracy theories seeing that they hitched their wagons to a group of war criminals who engaged in a war of aggression against a country who was not a clear and present danger to us.

Originally posted to Stop the Police State! on Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 07:55 AM PDT.

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