On the heels of Tuesday's landmark deal to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, late former President Ronald Reagan has been on a lot of people's minds, and lips. In addition to countless political pundits and reporters, though, their number includes the architect of the historical agreement, President Barack Obama. Those of us who remember the Reagan administration aren't shocked that a deal involving Iran and arms would bring ol' Dutch to mind, but let's listen to Obama let him have it anyway:
“You know, I have a lot of differences with Ronald Reagan, but where I completely admire him was his recognition that if you were able to verify an agreement, that you negotiated with the evil empire that was hellbent on our destruction and was a far greater existential threat to us than Iran will ever be."
Wait, what? President Obama is talking about a deal with Iran, and he finds a way to compliment Ronald Reagan? At least he has the excuse of trying to appeal to white "independents" and "moderate" Republicans," but the mainstream media has also been wall-to-wall with its praise for Reagan's "trust but verify," as though the phrase was propelled forth by the offspring of Solomon and Confucius, rather than the sort of advice you would dispense to a convenience store trainee the first time he sold someone a pack of cigarettes for a pile of loose change.
No, those of us who remember the Reagan administration remember that while the Obama administration jumps through hoops to get a deal with Iran, to deal with U.S. hostages, and to fund a rebel army, Ronald Reagan once announced that his administration had killed all three birds with one stone. On November 25, 1986, President Reagan explained to reporters how his deal to recover hostages from Iran included a little something extra for the Contras, a rebel army that was fighting the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. For illustrative purposes, try to imagine Dutch wearing a cowboy hat, and that hat spinning around in midair after he flees the podium:
Reagan: I believe our policy goals toward Iran were well-founded. However, the information brought to my attention yesterday convinced me that in one aspect, implementation of that policy was seriously flawed.
Reporter: Did you make a mistake in sending arms to Tehran, sir?
Reagan: No. And I'm not taking any more questions.
Wait, what? Did I hear that right, President Reagan made an agreement to arm Iran? How'd he twist their arms to pull off that sweet deal?
Not to worry, though, as Attorney General Edwin Meese stuck around to face the music for about 45 minutes, but he summed the whole thing up pretty well in about 45 seconds:
"Certain monies which were received in the transaction between representatives of Israel and representatives of Iran were made available to the forces in Central America which are opposing the Sandinista government there."
I know what you're thinking, but at the time, arming an enemy who was taking Americans hostage and using that money to overthrow a government that wasn't taking Americans hostage just made sense. So did legwarmers. Did I mention they were funding a cocaine-dealing rebel army? Again, it was the 80s. Kajagoogoo was a thing.
It all worked out in the end, though, because Ronald Reagan was no aloof incompetent, the buck stopped with him:
"A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not."
Stupid facts and evidence. Where's Fox News when you need them? Luckily for everyone involved, Vice President George H.W. Bush succeeded Reagan as president, and pardoned everyone involved, stopping that buck real good.
But hey, at least Reagan knew how to make a deal, right?
President Obama has no choice but to try and make nice with the Reagan-worshiping likes who will try to kill this deal, but it is inexcusable for our mainstream press to ignore the real historical intersections between Ronald Reagan, Iran, and arms deals. Consider this your reminder.