Marco Rubio is taking fire from the usual “fact checkers” for his comment over the weekend that Iran released our 52 hostages on January 20, 1981 as soon as Ronald Reagan took office because Iran perceived that America was “no longer under the command of someone weak.”
We flagged Rubio’s comment as a misleading framing of history. Reagan’s inauguration in 1981 may have coincided with the release of the hostages, but historians say it did not cause it.
Which historians? This is one historian who thinks Rubio has a solid point. The only historian Politifact cites is . . . Gary Sick. Grassy Knoller Gary Sick. The slick Sick who once speculated that William Casey flew to Paris in a SR-71 Blackbird to meet with Iranians to persuade them to keep the hostages until after the 1980 election. You have to be pretty sick to place your faith in Sick. Anyway, Politifact continues:
Instead, the Iranians had tired of holding the hostages, and that the administration of Jimmy Carter did the legwork to get the hostages released.
They got tired of it, you see. Riiiight. Okay, if you’re done being convulsed with laughter on the floor, let’s recall what the Washington Post editorial page (!!) had to say about the matter on January 21, 1981:
“Who doubts that among Iran’s reasons for coming to terms now was a desire to beat [Reagan] to town?”
And who doubts that Politifact and other “fact checkers” are too clueless to grasp Rubio’s argument that your reputation in the world counts for something—especially with your enemies. Talk about the problem of the “fact-value” distinction.
Here’s part of my account of it in The Age of Reagan:
Following Reagan’s election, a joke came into currency: “What’s flat as a pancake and glows in the dark? Iran after Reagan becomes president.” Reagan played to the type during the transition, making several tart statements about Iran, such as calling the Iranian captors “criminals” and saying “I don’t think you pay ransom for people that have been kidnapped by barbarians.”
Think that didn’t play any role in the thinking of the Iranians? If so, then I’ve got two tottering Democratic candidates to recommend to you.