Ronald Reagan - The Bonzo Years

1986


2/11/86
With Ferdinand Marcos having stolen the election, President Reagan states that he is "encouraged" by evidence of a "two party system in the Philippines," even if only one is allowed to win.

3/3/86
President Reagan claims that victory for the Sandinistas would create "a privileged sanctuary for terrorists and subversives just two days' driving time from Harlingen, Texas."

3/21/86
President Reagan again tells his version of British gun laws, despite it's repudiation four years ago, during an interview with The New York Times. It is not challenged by the three veteran reporters.

4/4/86
"I wonder what people thought I was going to do when I left the White House? Be a brain surgeon?" - Michael Deaver defending himself against charges that he has cashed in on his White House connections with unseemly speed and behavior.

4/12/86
Excerpts from David Stockman's memoir, "The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed", appear in Newsweek. Although it has many anecdotes, the media focuses on the author's alleged betrayal of the President, characterized by sections like: "What do you do when your President ignores all the palpable, relevant facts and wanders in circles?"

5/21/86
President Reagan tells a group of students, "I don't believe that there is anyone that is going hungry in America simply by reason of denial or lack of ability to feed them. It is by people not knowing where or how to get this help." Asked what this observation is based on, Larry Speakes says, "That is his view." Critics note that the Reagan administration eliminated the program that informed needy people of available benefits.

5/29/86
Former government prosecutor Whitney North Seymour, Jr., is appointed to investigate conflict-of-interest charges against Michael Deaver.

6/11/86
During his 37th press conference, President Reagan:
· Responds to a question about abortion with an answer about an unrelated case
· Displays confusion about whether or not the SALT II treaty exists and about whether or not he plans to order construction of another space shuttle
· Claims that the government is providing 93 million meals a day to hungry Americans. That would amount to one in three people.
He later explains he spent too much time concentrating on which reporters to call on. "Next time, I'm going to concentrate not on who I'm calling on, but what I'm going to say."

7/9/86
Standing in front of a bare-breasted statue at the Justice Department, Ed Meese accepts the 1,960 page report from his $500,000 pornography commission. Available in two volumes from the government for $35, the report becomes a cult item for its 100-plus page listing of book, movie and magazine titles (including Teenage Dog Orgy, Cathy's Sore Bottom, Lesbian Foot Lovers - The Movie and others) and 200 pages of detailed descriptions and excerpts from said material.

7/30/86
At his confirmation hearing for the post of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, , William Rehnquist:
"separate but equal" doctrine represented the views of the justice he was clerking for, not his own.
· Explains that a 1952 memo he wrote supporting of minority voters in the early '60's. Four witnesses rebut this two days later.
· Claims to have no recall that his Vermont vacation home came with an unlawful covenant prohibiting its sale to anyone of the "Hebrew race", though a 1974 letter from his lawyer informing him of this is soon discovered.

9/14/86
The Reagans, seated on their living room couch, urge a "national crusade" against "the cancer of drugs." The President will cut funding for anti-drug programs immediately after the upcoming election.

9/17/86
William Rehnquist is confirmed as Chief Justice.

10/5/86
Three American mercenaries die on a supply run to the contras when their cargo plane is shot down by Nicaraguan government forces. Survivor Eugene Hasenfus is captured in the jungle. The White House, the State Department, the Defense Department and the CIA all claim non-involvement.

10/9/86
Although President Reagan has stated that the downed cargo plane had "absolutely" no connection to the US government, Eugene Hasenfus-imprisoned in Managua-says his mission was supervised by the CIA.

10/10/86
Senator John Kerry suggests that the Foreign Relations Committee question Lt. Col. Oliver North, a National Security Council member reportedly close to the Nicaraguan rebels, in connection with White House involvement in the private arming of the contras.

10/11/86
President Reagan arrives in Reykjavik, Iceland, to meet with Mikhail Gorbachev for their first summit session.

10//12/86
The summit collapses amid mutual charges of intransigence and confusion about just which and how many weapons President Reagan suggested getting rid of.

10/17/86
George Shultz releases the text of President Reagan's arms control proposal to prove that he did not suggest getting rid of all nuclear weapons. Larry Speakes says the President may have been "misunderstood."

10/23/86
Meese Says High Court Doesn't Set 'Law Of Land'. Asserts Rulings Of Top Justices Bind Only Those In Case - The New York Times

10/24/86
Ed Meese urges employers to begin spying on workers in "locker rooms, parking lots, shipping and mail room areas and even the nearby taverns" to try to catch them using drugs.

11/3/86
In Lebanon, the pro-Syrian magazine Al Shiraa reports that the US has secretly been supplying arms to Iran.

11/4/86
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaker of the Iranian Parliament, says that former NSC adviser Robert McFarlane and four other Americans, carrying Irish passports and posing as members of a flight crew, recently traveled to Iran on a secret diplomatic mission to trade military equipment for Iran's help in curbing terrorism.

11/13/86
In an address to the American people on the Iran arms deal, President Reagan states: "For 18 months now, we have had under way a secret diplomatic initiative to Iran. That initiative was undertaken for the simplest and best of reasons: to renew a relationship with the nation of Iran; to bring an honorable end to the bloody six-year war between Iran and Iraq; to eliminate state-sponsored terrorism and subversion, and to effect the safe return of all hostages..."
"During the course of our secret discussions, I authorized the transfer of small amounts of defensive weapons and spare parts for defensive systems to Iran...These modest deliveries, taken together, could easily fit into a single cargo plane...We did not - repeat - did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we."
This last part was to deny the rumour that the US had traded arms for hostages, implying that it wasn't a swap because we didn't give them very much, and what we did give was for defense.

11/14/86
In the wake of world denouncement over President Reagan's speech, Donald Regan is asked if it isn't hypocritical to ask other nations not to ship arms to Iran while we do just that. 'Hypocrisy is a question of degree," he responds.

11/15/86
A Nicaraguan court sentences Eugene Hasenfus to 30 years in jail. The Sandinistas decide to release him to get home in time for Christmas.
In response to charges of incompetency, Donald Regan tells The New York Times "Some of us are like a shovel brigade that follow a parade down Main Street cleaning up. We took Reykjavik and turned what was really a sour situation into something that turned out pretty well."

11/16/86
George Shultz appears on Face The Nation. When asked directly whether he can assure the public that no more arms will be sent, the Secretary of State says "No." He is the chief architect of the national foreign policy.

11/18/86
79% Reject President's Explanation Of Iran Deal - Los Angeles Times

11/19/86
At his 39th press conference, President Reagan describes the arms shipment as "really miniscule," again claiming that "everything that we sold them could be put in one cargo plane and there would be plenty of room left over." He also states four times that Isreal had no involvement in the Iran arms deal, but later makes a correction: "There may be some misunderstanding of one of my answers tonight. There was a third country involved in our secret project with Iran." He does not explain how something stated four times could be misunderstood.

11/21/86
The shredding machine in White House aide Oliver North's office jams.

11/25/86
President Reagan appears in the White House briefing room to say he "was not fully informed on the nature of one of the activities" undertaken as an off-shoot of the Iran arms deal. He announces that National Security Adviser John Poindexter has resigned and NSC staffer Oliver North has been fired, then introduced Ed Meese to explain why.
"Certain monies which were received in the transaction between representatives of Israel and representatives of Iran were taken and made available to the forces in Central America which are opposing the Sandinista government there," says Meese. "We don't know the exact amount yet. Our estimate is that it is somewhere between $10 and $30 million...The President knew nothing about it."
"If he knew about it, then he has willfully broken the law; if he didn't know about it, then he is failing to do his job. After all, we expect the President to know about the foreign policy activities being run directly out of the White House." - Senator John Glenn

11/26/86
Ed Meese appears on TV to assure viewers that "the President knows what's going on."

12/1/86
In a Time interview, President Reagan:
· Calls Oliver North "a national hero"
· Dismisses the furor over the growing scandal as "a Beltway bloodletting"
· Blames the press for interfering with the release of more hostages "There is a bitter bile in my throat," he says. "This whole thing boils down to great irresponsibility on the part of the press."

12/2/86
President Reagan names Frank Carlucci as his fifth National Security Adviser.

12/6/86
President Reagan concedes that "mistakes were made," though he does not suggest who made them.

12/8/86
"If Colonel North ripped off the Ayatollah and took $30 million and gave it to the contras, then God bless Colonel North!" - Pat Buchanan addressing a pro-Reagan rally in Miami.

12/9/86
Oliver North and John Poindexter invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Says North, "I don't think there is another person in America that wants to tell this story as much as I do."

12/11/86
President Reagan are reportedly "stunned" by his allies' refusal to defend him on the Iran-contra matter. Explains Robert Dornan, usually a staunch Reagan supporter, "When someone says, 'But he was giving arms to people he knew had killed our Marines,' it's hard to respond to that."

12/16/86
Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Warren Rudman (R-NH) are chosen to head the 11-member Senate committee investigating the Iran-contra scandal. The House appoints Lee Hamilton (D-IN) to chair a 15-member group.

12/18/86
"There have been a number of people who have suggested that I abandon my individual rights under the Constitution of the United States. The President has not asked that I do that. I don't believe the President really wants me to abandon my individual rights under the Constitution. People have died face down in the mud all over the world defending those individual rights." - Oliver North, responding to Nancy Reagan's insistence that he "talk".

12/20/86
Meese Now Says Reagan, Under Sedation After Surgery, May Have Ok'd 1st Arms Deal - New York Newsday

12/23/86
"The President ordered this whole operation on Iran. He ordered his Administration not to tell the intelligence committees what he was doing. Now he wants the intelligence committee to tell him what his Administration was doing during the time they were under his orders not to tell the intelligence committee. Even Alice in Wonderland doesn't get this twisted around." - Senator Patrick Leahy on President Reagan's eagerness to receive the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the arms deal.


   

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