Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher Have the Best Discussion Ever About Iran-Contra

Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher use a discussion of the Iran-Contra Affair to show why Dick Cheney is the center of all evil in the universe. (Not really, but kinda’).

Here is the video from MSNBC:

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Maddow and Maher tied it all back to Dick Cheney (Partial transcript via MSNBC):

Maher: And they liked Reagan. When he made that statement they kind of went, oh, yeah, I get it. He’s old. He’s been shot. He means well. He’s a nice guy. You know, all that —

Maddow: I would sell weapons to the Iranians, too, I guess. A). It was a really big scandal and the senior officials are getting indicted, people are going to prison. George H.W. Bush had to pardon everybody, and George W. Bush hired them back. It was a really big scandal and in trying to tamp down the scandal, the thing that is most important for the overall thing that I’m writing is Reagan’s administration is trying to save his butt. We’re talking about Nixon earlier, the way that Nixon explained what happened in Watergate is well, if the president does it, it’s not illegal.

Maher: Right.

Maddow: The Reagan administration defense for Reagan at the end of the Iran-Contra is, if the president does it and it’s vaguely related to national security, it’s not illegal. It’s this radical idea that President Reagan, yes, defied Congress knowingly and, yes, he defied congress and all sorts of crazy lies and the weapons to the Iranians and, yes, it’s very clear that he knew it was all happening. But he’s the president and it’s war-related vaguely. And the president has unlimited power when it comes to things that are vaguely war-related and that’s nuts. That’s absolutely nuts. It was a crazy idea, and it was seen as a crazy idea at the time. Congress did their investigation of Iran-Contra and they are like, yeah, that’s crazy.

There was a dissent to Iran-Contra. There was one report that said actually that crazy line about how the president doing it, it’s by definition legal, the president can do anything related to national security with no legal constraint without having to consult anybody and do it in private and it just doesn’t matter? The one person who said actually I believe that is a Wyoming congressman named Dick Cheney. Which didn’t mean anything when he was just the Wyoming congressman named Dick Cheney. He went on to be secretary of defense, vice president, and that became, again, what should have been an aberration became normal. It never should have survived anything other than that scandal.

Besides being the most fun that anyone has ever had discussing the Iran-Contra Affair, Maher and Maddow brought up a really great point. These events don’t exist in a vacuum. What the Reagan administration was able to get away with in Iran-Contra laid the groundwork for the Patriot Act, spying on American citizens, GITMO, and waterboarding. Who knows what a future administration will do when they build on the expanded executive powers that the Bush administration gave itself.

It isn’t surprising that Maher and Maddow were so entertaining. It was nice to see both of them out of their television formats and enjoying a broader discussion. As we get ready for another presidential election, their point should not be lost. Judgment and character matter, and our choices if we don’t pick wisely (like we did in 2000 and 2004) could have history changing consequences that may not become evident until decades later.

17 Replies to “Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher Have the Best Discussion Ever About Iran-Contra”

  1. Unfortunately, those Bush-era atrocities were set up so every president will have to keep them in place. Those evil men knew exactly what they set in motion.

  2. Thanks for bringing that up. You beat me to it!

    The connections between Oliver North and dominionism are pretty strong.

    Talk2Action has plenty of information on him. Two links I quickly found that at least mention his religious connections:

    (I confess I initially confused Oliver North and Gary North, son-in-law of Rushdoony, the infamous thinker behind Christian reconstructionism. I realized my mistake in time, thank God.)

  3. “…have to…” is incorrect – the President could just as easily [sic] reverse that decision, rescind those expanded Executive powers, and return the government to a state of checks and balances – but we haven’t yet elected one willing to do such a thing. Do you expect we ever will? Given our choices, and the recent signing of the NDAA, I seriously doubt it.

  4. damn i remember Iran Contra… a big part of the reason they “got away with it”, it seems to me was post watergate burnout..

    people of my political stipe, grew up during the Veit Nam era, took to the streets.. we knew about american corporations, the CIA and bannana republics..

    i know in my life it also happened just at the time in my life, i was finding i was going to have to work my but off to survive..

    i remember the bosses wife asking me about Iran Contra, i just shrugged.. i sometimes think i ought to call the company back and tell her she was right about Ollie North..

    Ollie should have been sent to prison, instead was made a hero by teh right wingers..

  5. There’s a deeper level to this that wasn’t covered, having to do with the whole Continuity of Government plan that Cheny and Rumsfeld put in place between Iran-Contra and 9-11. It provides for a parallel government that can be put in place in times of national emergency, and part of it was activated by Cheney during 9-11. The members of this secret administration are chosen in secret and have no oversight or accountability. See Prof. Peter Dale Scott’s excelent book from University of California Press, “The Road to 9-11”, where this as well as other Shadow Government (his term) activity such as the Project for a New American Century (they were planning how to suspend the constitution in the event of a terrorist attack such as 9-11, and saw such an attack as an avenue to effect a right-wing take over of government), are discussed in detail. He shows how Iran Contra was just the tip of the iceberg.
    If you really want to get bummed out, read Scott’s previous book, “Cocaine POlitics,” where he lays out in detail the connections between the CIA, the Mob, Oliver North, and Latin American death squads who payed for their weapons with the help of CIA/Mob drug-running. Many CIA opperatives deeply involved in the drugs-and-gun dealing (such as Juan Rodriguez) are now in high positions at the CIA. The power that the CIA and its allied gangsters have in the world is the kind of stuff that keeps you up late at night wondering if they are going to come for you someday.

  6. Excellent video, thank you for bringing it to us, Jason Easley!

    The Right-Wing have certainly ‘fooled’ a great many people.

    And it was George Dubya Bush who once let the secret out:

    “We can fool some of the people all of the time…
    And those are the ones we concentrate on”.

    Stay informed peeps. We need to do all we can to wake up America…and not be ‘fooled’ again!

  7. Not only was he made a hero, but along with Sean Hannity ran a bunch of concerts supposedly for the children of the military that had lost parents. Around 4% of that money went to kids, the rest to Hannity and Ollie.(minus the bands payments)

    Ollie is also a crook

  8. Check that link above on North. It’s full of some intriguing information about the man and what he was up to.
    Although North would like everybody to believe he was innocent of any wrong doing. In fact,
    “Mr. North, the former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and National Security Council aide, was convicted of destroying documents, accepting the gift of a $13,800 home security system and abetting the obstruction of Congress. The judge slapped him with ” a $150,000 fine, two years of probation, a three-year suspended sentence and an order to perform 1,200 hours of community service.”

    Actually the Iran contra scandal is one of the key events of the post-Watergate era and is connected to so many other seemingly unrelated events. (That’s not a so-called conspiracy theory)

  9. Correct me if I am wrong here. I have done some light reading on the Iran Contra scandal, and from what I’ve gathered, they let everyone go basicly because when it was all said and done, they were all going to be pardoned anyway. It was just a few scant years since Watergate and Vietnam, and people were just tired of it. Same thing with what went on with Alberto Gonzalez and Dick Cheney and he rest of the criminals. They would have never pegged Bush with any of it. They may have nailed a few of them, but in the end it would have taken years, and expended huge amounts of political capitol, and end with pardons all around. No one had the gumption. And that’s sad.

  10. Basically we will never prosecute anything that a president does. Which tells the rest of the presidents do whatever you want

    That record should have stopped with Obama and Im sad it didnt

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