One thing I say in my book and that I’ve especially tried to emphasize in book talks I’ve given is that the country was basically fortunate during the Cold War years in that at key moments Republican Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan wound up rejecting the advice of the conservative movement that brought them to power — Ike in rejecting “rollback,” Nixon in pursuing détente, and Reagan in sitting down with Gorbachev — whereas George W. Bush has come much closer to hewing to the straight conservative ideal and the results have been disastrous.
While Ron Paul reminded us of the peace/isolationist wing of the Republican Party (e.g. Robert Taft), it is also important to remember this black/white good/evil strain runs straight through Conservative Foreign Policy well before the neoconservatives (though they arguably the most vociferous and undoubtedly the most powerful).
The book on that subject is Peter Scoblic’s, Us vs. Them persuasively showing that this strain of conservatism (mythic meme) is bound to a black/white us/them dangerously naive view of the world. The proof of course is Newt Gingrich railing against Reagan for meeting with Gorby as being 1938 all over again. So looks Obama could be in good company.
The obvious point is when you recall this, you realize these dudes can’t be taken seriously. Not all conservatives and Republicans mind you (again Yglesias’ point), just the ones from this strain. And while Reagan appropriate the language when he needed to he was not that dumb (at least when it came to a nuclear power, as opposed to say Central American Civil Wars), but McCain is not. McCain wants to rattle sabers with Russia and China (both nuclear powers), is against the deal with North Korea (another holder of a nuke). That is it’s not just talk with McCain, he actually believes it.