Congressman Ron Paul of Texas certainly has been a busy guy of late, hasn’t he? When he’s not running ads calling fellow Lone Star State denizen Rick Perry a liberal, he’s busily preparing for a debate to be held at the presidential library of conservative icon Ronald Reagan tomorrow night. And Congressman Paul is a big fan of Reagan’s, so it’s a natural fit. Some of you may recall another advertisement that Ron ran less than two months ago where he praised Reagan’s fiscal ideals. In it, he was lamenting the fact that the evil Democrats had tricked Reagan into a debt ceiling compromise which Ronnie only “reluctantly agreed to.”

With that in mind, it may be of interest to look through the slightly longer lens of history and see what Ron Paul had to say about Reagan (and the GOP in general) back in 1987 when he quit the party and lambasted the sitting president. The letter, sent to Frank Fahrenkopf, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is far too long to reproduce in its entirely here, so be sure to click through for full context, but here are a few of the key passages.

As a lifelong Republican, it saddens me to have to write this letter. My parents believed in the Republican Party and its free enterprise philosophy, and that’s the way I was brought up. At age 21, in 1956, I cast my first vote for Ike and the entire Republican slate…

Since 1981, however, I have gradually and steadily grown weary of the Republican Party’s efforts to reduce the size of the federal government. Since then Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party have given us skyrocketing deficits, and astoundingly a doubled national debt. How is it that the party of balanced budgets, with control of the White House and Senate, accumulated red ink greater than all previous administrations put together? Tip O’Neill, although part of the problem, cannot alone be blamed…

Knowing this administration’s record, I wasn’t surprised by its Libyan disinformation campaign, Israeli-Iranian arms-for-hostages swap, or illegal funding of the Contras. All this has contributed to my disenchantment with the Republican Party, and helped me make up my mind…

I want to totally disassociate myself from the policies that have given us unprecedented deficits, massive monetary inflation, indiscriminate military spending, an irrational and unconstitutional foreign policy, zooming foreign aid, the exaltation of international banking, and the attack on our personal liberties and privacy…

I conclude that one must look to other avenues if a successful effort is ever to be achieved in reversing America’s direction…

I therefore resign my membership in the Republican Party and enclose my membership card.

To be clear, the key elements of this letter and the complaints which Ron Paul puts forth are essentially the same as the ones we hear from his stump speeches today. He talks about the high cost of foreign interventionism, the need to cut spending, etc. so I’m not attempting to say that there’s some sort of hypocrisy here on the message. It’s pretty much vintage Ron Paul.

What’s different is the attitude toward the party itself and one of its permanent icons. It is indeed remarkable that one can undertake this much of a transformation, going from quitting the party in disgust to seeking to be its standard bearer and nominee for the presidency. As to Reagan… well, I suppose we could say that Ron Paul has an extremely Christian attitude of forgiveness to go from blasting the president that bluntly to using him as a talking point in his campaign ads.

What a difference a couple of decades makes, eh?