Right-wing media love to invoke former President Reagan to call for a course of action -- even when Reagan himself took the exact opposite course. Conservative media, for example, often call upon Reagan's legacy to call for tax cuts, ignoring the fact that Reagan did, in fact, raise taxes while in office -- several times.
This morning, former CIA operative Wayne Simmons took to Fox News' airwaves to invoke Reagan in a particularly ironic way -- to call for the Obama administration to take harsh action against Iran, ignoring Reagan's actual history with Iran. Following yesterday's news of an alleged plot by Iranian officials to murder the Saudi ambassador in the U.S., the co-hosts of Fox & Friends hosted Simmons to discuss and asked him how the Obama administration should respond.
From the broadcast:
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): I think, Wayne, the number one thing that Americans are waking up this morning and asking themselves is, what is America going to do? You know, what -- what will this administration now do? Because many people will say, hey, we can't really attack them militarily, or can we? What's the answer?
SIMMONS: Well, the answer is, Gretchen, unfortunately, they're going to get a lot of this (shaking fist). You know, our secretary of state and our president are very good at shaking this fist and telling them that this just will not stand. Well, unfortunately, you know, our enemies understand that. Every Third World despot, every Third World country around the world understands that there will be no repercussions. What should happen? If President Reagan was in there, I assure you, I am confident in telling you, it would be a message on a very, very large scale, and it would not be one or two rockets into an aspirin factory.
President Reagan is a very interesting choice for Simmons' comparison. He failed to mention what Reagan actually did when he was “in there” : he sent weapons to Iran, as those who remember the Iran-Contra scandal will recall. Here's an excerpt of Reagan's testimony on Iran-Contra, as was published in The New York Times in February 1990, during the trial of his former national security advisor John Poindexter (emphasis added):
[RICHARD BECKLER (lawyer for Poindexter):] Now, just in a very general sense, Mr. President, I take it you have some recollection of the events that led up to what is now called, for lack of a better word, the Iran-contra affair or the Iran-contra event?
[REAGAN:] Yes. Did you --
[BECKLER:] Yes. I was just asking if you had some general recollection about the event.
[REAGAN:] Yes. It was a covert action that was taken at my behest.
[BECKLER:] Later on as 1985 went on, do you recall getting some of your top advisers together - Secretary Weinberger and Secretary Shultz - and discussing in a little more depth this Israeli initiative to send weapons overseas to Iran?
[BECKLER:] Maybe you could tell the jury a little bit about what you recall about those meetings and the fact that there was disagreement and so on?
[REAGAN:] . . . I made the decision that there was one thing upon which we could base selling them this single order [of TOW antitank missiles] . . . if they would use their efforts to get our hostages freed. . . .
This is just another example of why right-wing media should be more careful before they invoke Reagan's legacy to attack Obama.