Ron waves goodbye to our ‘national hero’

By Sean Noble

Imagine a grade school classroom in which two students are plotting a “harmless” prank. Ron, the older of the two boys (and the teacher’s pet), is urging the younger boy to pull off a timeless schoolboy stunt.

“Come on, Oliver, quick!” Ron whispers from his desk. “While her back’s turned. Throw it!”

Oliver eyes his expertly-folded paper airplane carefully. “I don’t know … seems kinda risky to me. What if we get caught?”

“Whadda you lookin‘ at?” Ron demands of the annoyed student next to him, and turns back to Oliver. “Don’t be a wuss, Ollie. Throw it now!”

Hapless Oliver flings his plane toward the front of the room and nails teacher, who’s writing on the chalkboard, square in the back of the head. All the kids burst into laughter.

“All right, who did it?” the teacher wearily asks the class. All fingers point toward Ollie, whose eyes are welling up with big tears—”But Ron told me to!”

Oliver finds himself dragged to the principal’s office by his ear as Ron assumes a puppy-eyed, innocent expression, refusing to intervene.

Should Ron share the blame? You bet!

In case my choice of names for this little allegory hasn’t tipped you off already, I’m drawing a reference to former President Reagan and one-time National Security Council aide Oliver North.

The former Marine Corps. lieutenant colonel is being tried for a dozen felonies connected with his undercover efforts to supply the Nicaraguan rebels (contras) with military and financial help between 1984 and 1986—the Iran-Contra affair. During that period, the U.S. Congress had prohibited all American military aid to the contras through the Boland amendment.

North is the second major Irangate figure to go to trial for his role in the scandal of the decade. Early last month, former national security council adviser Robert McFarlane was fined $20,000, given two year’s probation and sentenced to 200 hours of community service for his lying to Congress about the cover-up operation.

North is up against similar charges, as well as obstructing investigators and altering and destroying government documents. North’s lawyers now are trying to prove that Reagan was the guiding force in the scandal, directing the former aide to act dishonestly.

The lawyers have hit a roadblock in their defense, however: federal Judge Gerhard Gesell has determined there is no reason to call Reagan to the stand in behalf of his little buddy. The little buddy that Reagan labeled a “national hero” when the controversy first broke.

Not having to testify for a national hero really breaks the Great Communicator’s heart, too. Listen to this Reagan quote: “I made up my mind I wasn’t going. I think it would have set a precedent that the next president doesn’t have a right to impose …” And, of course, Reagan has been able to successfully cloak himself in the “security secrets” mantle.

Maybe Reagan believes some Americans are above the law. Maybe, as long as you have held a high elective office in the United States, you are exempt from justice.

And maybe the former president is afraid of what would come out about him on the witness’ stand. Because of the more than 30 witnesses who have testified thus far, a lot already has surfaced, such as:

Reagan’s explicit designation of North to handle contra help in the event of a congressional ban on aid.

Reagan’s approval of a secret $110 million Honduran aid deal in 1985.

Discrepancies between recent written answers by Reagan to prosecutors’ questions and answers he gave two years ago concerning his role in the Iran-Contra affair.

Reagan wasn’t far off when he stewed about precedent-setting; a precedent surely is being established. Remember Richard Nixon? The point-man crooks like North and McFarlane will be prosecuted, while the elitist crooks like Reagan and Nixon walk, without so much as even testifying in a court of law.

And that is something that no one has a “right to impose.”