COLUMN

Creepy work in the basement

Allan Fotheringham January 26 1987
COLUMN

Creepy work in the basement

Allan Fotheringham January 26 1987

Creepy work in the basement

Allan Fotheringham

COLUMN

Zowie, Dr. Foth, it is certainly propitious to intercept your ambulatory perambulations.

Exterpolate the specificities of your phantasmagorical vacuity.

Well, yee, for the life of me I can't figure out what is going on with this Washington arms scandal.

First of all, the public has been confused because there hasn’t been a handy name for it—like Watergate.

And do we now have a name for it?

Yes. Gippergap. Move on.

Well, could you explain to me exactly who Col. Ollie North is?

Simple. Ollie North is Ronald Reagan’s silverscreen alter ego. He is the fearless hero of all those shoot-’em-ups (Cattle Queen of Montana) that the President used to star in.

You mean... ?

Right. Ollie North is the son Reagan always wanted to have. Ronald Reagan Jr., as you know, was a ballet dancer, appears on TV in his underwear and does American Express commercials. Ollie North, jumping out of helicopters into the arms of the contras in Nicaragua, does it the way the screen Reagan would have done it.

But is it true that North had $1 million in cash in his safe in the White House basement?

That’s what he told his friends. Col. North took an oath to serve his country. No one said he had to tell the truth.

But didn’t he have a boss? lean ’t believe one marine lieutenant-colonel could have this much power to cause international scandals.

Ever hear of Christine Keeler?

Who ’s Christine Keeler?

A London doxy who almost overthrew the Harold Macmillan Tory government because she was sleeping with both War Minister John Profumo and a Soviet military attaché.

What’s the analogy?

Christine was just diddling two men. Ollie is diddling the President.

Get sérieras. What about his boss?

Ollie’s boss was Admiral John Poindexter, also sworn to serve his country.

Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for South a m News.

He used to give his version of confidential memos to Reagan, verbally, and then sign Reagan’s initials on them. The President is not much for detail.

What about the vice-president?

George Bush no longer exists. George Bush has done such a vanishing act, trying to distance himself from the scandal, that many think he may next resurface helping Vanna White turn the Wheel of Fortune. He is sinking faster than the Vancouver Canucks.

Where was the cabinet during all this?

The two most powerful men, Secretary of State George Shultz and Defence

Secretary Caspar Weinberger, knew the cowboy in the basement was up to something and didn’t approve, and so looked the other way.

Why is that?

Because Ollie was playing out his role as a younger Reagan and the President likes dreams.

I think you’re making this up.

How can you make anything up when a cowboy in the White House basement arranges through Israeli middlemen to ship arms to sworn enemy Iran and siphons the money through numbered Swiss bank accounts and a couple of Canadian millionaire suckers are suckered and some $30 million goes missing and the rest ends up with rebels fighting an established government in Nicaragua—defying Congress and breaking a number of American laws?

Are you suggesting this is as bad as Watergate?

Watergate became Watergate only because the President at the time, whatsisface, kept lying. The President

this time just can’t remember. He’s not much for detail.

But is it as bad?

No one was physically hurt in Watergate. It was a burglary that turned into a lying contest. No foreign countries were involved. In Gippergap, there is furtive financing of one side in the IranIraq war with the profits going to finance another war in Nicaragua, with the reputation of Israel drawn into it, Panama banks, Saudi middlemen, Canadian suckers. It’s a real United Nations of creeps. Ollie has hit the jackpot.

But surely this is going to blow over soon?

Yeah, in about nine months. There are seven different congressional committees investigating lawbreaking and the illegal scams the CIA, the National Security Council and the basement cowboys delighted in. The special prosecutor appointed to delve into the whole mess estimates he may have a report by September.

And in the meantime? Not to worry. Nancy will continue to run the White House, the Giants will beat the Broncos in the Stupor Bowl and the Sine Stevens report will come 5 out in 1988, just edging out “ the Calgary Olympics.

And what lessons do we draw from this, o seer?

The lesson we draw is that a President, forbidden by law from having elected people in his cabinet, surrounds himself with geriatric millionaires who are so enamored of the trappings of power that they do not want to tell the emperor that he has no clothes.

I don’t get you.

They all knew the old guy didn’t care much for detail, that he’s sentimental and felt sorry for the hostages held in the Middle East and thought a little fiddling outside the law, as run by his hero/son in the basement, really would be appreciated in the end by the public once he’d got all the hostages out.

You mean: the end justifies the means.

You got it, buster.

But that’s what Nixon thought.

Thank you.

Gee, Dr. Foth, you’ve certainly managed one more time to fuzzify the muddification.

No sweat.