Sunday, November 25, 2007

If I gave you the truth, would it keep you alive?

Ronald Reagan was the greatest American President ever. Even Christopher Hitchens says so:
Reagan sold heavy weapons to the Iranian mullahs and lied about it, saying that all the weapons he hadn't sold them (and hadn't traded for hostages in any case) would, all the same, have fit on a small truck. Reagan then diverted the profits of this criminal trade to an illegal war in Nicaragua and lied unceasingly about that, too. Reagan then modestly let his underlings maintain that he was too dense to understand the connection between the two impeachable crimes. He then switched without any apparent strain to a policy of backing Saddam Hussein against Iran. (If Margaret Thatcher's intelligence services had not bugged Oliver North in London and become infuriated because all European nations were boycotting Iran at Reagan's request, we might still not know about this.)


Why does this matter now? A couple of reasons. First, there are many who bow down and worship even unto his glory, never mind that his patriotism was informed by watching wartime news reels while he was a small-time contract player.

And second, that today is the anniversary of his greatest impeachable offense:
Washington, Nov. 25--President Reagan said today that he had not been in full control of his Administration's Iran policy, and the White House said that as a consequence up to $30 million intended to pay for American arms had been secretly diverted to rebel forces in Nicaragua.

At the same time, the President announced that two men he held responsible--Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, the national security adviser, and Lieut. Col. Oliver L. North, a member of the admiral's staff--had left their posts.

With the Administration already in turmoil over the earlier disclosure of clandestine arms shipments to Iran, and with speculation rampant about a major overhaul of the White House staff, the President's statement seemed to deepen a sense of disarray. By all accounts, Mr. Reagan now faces the most serious crisis in his six-year Presidency.

That's right. Corruption, sloganeering, and lying were his stock in trade. And yet, did he 'man up' and take credit for his duplicity? Did he own the story he had spun to the American public like a true hero? No, he blamed his subordinates like the chickenshit he was. Full of scorn for those who criticized him, he steadfastly swore that he and he alone held the vision forward for America in his hands.

I'm pretty sure that was something else in his hands, a little closer to his heart.