Partisan vote won’t exonerate Reagan

With the release of the reports by the committees which investigated the Iran-contra arms fiasco, it should come as no suprise that the report blames President Reagan for the affair. It also must come as no suprise that the Democrats—the majority on the committees—criticized the president and his administration while most Republicans stood by his side.

The White House quickly used the opposing viewpoint situation to its advantage, claiming the decision to blame the president was purely political.

All six Republicans on the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, and two Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran, disagreed sharply with their Democratic counterparts.

The majority—Democratic—viewpoint held that President Reagan bears “ultimate responsibility” for allowing a “cabal of the zealots” to determine policy and operate above the law.

The administration has a point—the decision was partisan. Such a split along party lines can indicate little else. The fact that the decision was political, however, does not constitute a defense for Reagan or his administration.

Disagreement came about over the question of whether any laws actually were broken. Republican claims indicate that nowhere in the report were any specific laws mentioned. Democrats maintain there was a “disdain for the law.”

In any event, Reagan still is culpable for risking national security. Those critical of the president’s behavior say, at the very least, his actions “contributed to the deception” so prevalent throughout the affair. By their own admission, Republican dissenters have cited the president for errors in judgment. They simply neglected to include the word “grave.”

Gary Bauer, Reagan’s assistant for policy development, accused the Democrats of trying one last time to “discredit a president they were never able to defeat at the polls.” If anything discredited Reagan, it was his own poor judgment and mistakes concerning the affair.

eagan is very fortunate this situation hasn’t been worse than it has. His behavior, studied ignorance being one manifestation, created great rifts in the administration and the government. The fact that the report on the event was partisan in no way makes his actions—or inaction—acceptable. The results could have been much worse than a critical, “partisan” report.