Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/
The National Rifle Association board of directors has selected retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and Fox News personality to be the next president of that organization.
“Oliver North is, hands down, the absolute best choice to lead our NRA Board, to fully engage with our members, and to unflinchingly stand and fight for the great freedoms he has defended his entire life,” NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre said. “Oliver North is a true hero and warrior for freedom and NRA members are proud to stand with him.”
“Thrilled about the Oliver North news. A total warrior for freedom, this is the last person that anti-gun advocates would want as the new President of the NRA board,” NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch tweeted.
If you are old enough, you remember how Oliver North was caught up in the lawfare waged against the Reagan and Bush (41) administrations concerning their fight to keep El Salvador from going communist and to roll back the communist takeover of Nicaragua by funding the so-called “Contras.” Because the Boland Amendment forbade the use of appropriated funds to support the Contras, the Iran-Contra affair happened. Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North worked on Reagan’s National Security Council. He was the central figure in an operation that sold US Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, and Wire-Guided (or TOW) missiles to Iran. Iran was then engaged in a rather ugly costly war with Iraq and most of its equipment was American acquired during the reign of the Shah. Iran used the missiles to blow up Iraqi tanks and the cash went through some laundering before it was used to buy arms and equipment for the Contras.
When the story broke, North became an immediate villain. He was tried and convicted in the media. And then he was hauled before a Senate committee. The senators were convinced that as North was a Marine he couldn’t be terribly bright. And they got their asses handed to them.
North, assisted by a brilliant attorney named Brendan Sullivan (Sullivan became famous when he was cut off when trying to speak by some Senator and Sullivan told him “I’m not a potted plant”), kept the nation spellbound for six full days of testimony carried live. (As an aside, I was an IG investigator at the time and was listening to NPR’s “gavel to gavel” coverage on a radio on my desk, my boss, the IG, called me into his office and told me he didn’t think it was appropriate for a commissioned officer to listen to NPR.)
Instead of a cartoon villain, North cast himself as the selfless patriot and he kicked ass. The death of the Iran Contra nonsense can, in my opinion, be traced directly to North’s testimony.
He was prosecuted by a special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, on sixteen felony counts. He was convicted on three which were eventually tossed on appeal because the prosecutors used information provided by North under a grant of immunity in order to convict him.
North ran for a Virginia Senate seat and lost because the Virginia GOP establishment threw its support to an “independent” rather than support North. Some things just don’t change.
In 2016, North endorsed Trump and achieved some notoriety in this interview with Sean Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): There are some Republicans that are openly sabotaging Donald Trump. And I say if Hillary were to win, I’m blaming them. And that means people at National Review, and The Weekly Standard, and a lot of congressmen and senators and former presidential candidates … What do you say to them in the 30 seconds we have left?
OLIVER NORTH: You know what? If you’re a critic of what this man just proposed then you don’t belong in the voting process. Critics are pointing to his quote, “evolving positions.” I heard that just an hour before I came on air with you. Do you know what we used to call evolving positions? We used to call that wisdom. I was very impressed with that stand that he took today.
So it will be interesting to see if the NeverTrump people’s positions on gun control change.
North is a polarizing figure but the NRA right now is fighting a very real struggle over the Second Amendment. The people who hate Oliver North are not NRA members. North, supported by LaPierre, will make them very formidable in the media and in fundraising. So all in all, it was a good choice.
I’ve just joined Facebook. Drop by and join the fun there.