NRA Pulls Another Heston

This ain’t Heston’s second coming, guys. Sorry …

Ollie North is going to be President of the NRA after Pete Brownell decided not to serve his remaining year. The last time they used this maneuver, it was to put Charlton Heston in the Presidency.

“This is the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became President of our Association,” said NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre.  “Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader.  In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our President.”

Exciting for whom? Does anyone under 40 even know who the hell Ollie North is or what he’s known for? Maybe that’s a good thing. Charlton Heston was a leading man in the Golden Age of Film. Even in my mid-2os when he was installed as NRA President, I knew who he was and had watched most of the movies he was in.

North is best known for illegally selling arms to the Iranians and funneling arms to the Contras. This  somehow resulted in him becoming a conservative darling, which, I’ll be honest, I don’t understand. The nuance of the whole thing is lost on me because I was 13 when all this went down, and I’m in my mid-40s now. So to me Ollie was this guy I watched testifying under oath while my father and grandfather argued about whether he should go to jail or was a hero. Again, let me reiterate, I’m in my mid-40s. I am no spring chicken. Ollie North has pretty much no cultural relevance for me. That’s not something I’d have said about Heston in my mid 20s.

This ain’t Heston’s second coming, guys. Sorry.

42 thoughts on “NRA Pulls Another Heston”

  1. He knows how to play the media, and he won’t back down. He’ll make a great bad cop, we just need a good cop as well.

  2. I was older than you but still quite young during the Iran contra business. My memories of him from that time are not positive.

    However … he’s been a fixture on Fox for awhile, so the NRA base probably knows him pretty well. Has done a lot of battlefield reporting as well as a series on war stories that is quite good.

    Don’t think 20 somethings really care. Not sure who they would rally behind though. Chris Pratt? Justin Bieber? Is either interested? ;-)

    1. Cultural relevancy isn’t the most important thing. However, if your press release is going to act like this is a major celebrity thing, then it should actually be a major celebrity thing.

      1. He’s definitely known within the right wing base. And especially for those who are over 40. But he’s certainly no celebrity coup (begging the question – why not enlist Tom Selleck. Everyone knows and loves Magnum PI).

  3. Its seems like most decisions made by NRA national are done in a very big echo chamber

  4. As an under-40, I would have ideally rather seen them follow order on this – Childress, Meadows, and then whoever they would have already been in talks with to do 2VP. And maybe he was that person, but in that case, he should go to 2VP, not to the front of the line. If Childress couldn’t possibly serve at all, then it’s a) time to give up the 1VP slot, and b) consider someone with the leadership experience related to the organization. Even though he’s associated with general right-of-center, David Keene would be a great fit in the role.

    In terms of how we associate him, most people my age couldn’t tell you anything about the guy at all other than being a Fox News guy. However, those who do know him, it’s because we’ve heard all about his baggage and known that he’s been the butt of jokes regarding arms sales for our entire lives. Honestly, not a great symbol for NRA in my opinion.

    I don’t really care that he’s on the board – the membership can vote for whomever they like. But I’m not exactly the biggest fan of this move. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong.

  5. Not a good idea. And I’m the same age as Sebastian, and was paying a certain amount of attention at the time.

  6. I’d bet if you polled millennials, they think Ollie North is the founder of the bargain outlet. “good stuff cheap” started with selling guns to Iranians. Or not. lol.

    what a dumb move. I really am deeply concerned that the NRA has lost the plot.

  7. The Contra thing was big for the right (not so much Iran). But the main thing was the he took the hit for Reagan who after all ordered the deal.
    He was not ultimately convicted for anything as the three counts that he was initially convicted (none involving actual arms sales) for were reversed on appeal.

    I agree though that he is no Heston. Heston was a magician.

    1. Yeah – the “conservative” angle there is Anti-Communism, I think.

      1. Which is sort of still anti-Russia, I’d think? Certainly anti-China…

  8. I actually am not a member of the NRA. I have too many issues with them, and I think that this is just one more in a series of bad moves. There is certainly no doubt that Ollie North loves America, and is a patriot. But with his baggage, involving gun running, he is just a huge negative for the NRA.

    1. “There is certainly no doubt that Ollie North loves America, and is a patriot.”

      I’m confused. I thought people who loved America and were patriots loved and obeyed its Constitution?

      North did not do that. You can argue that North’s policies were better than the congress’s policies, but that’s constitutionally immaterial and he did not obey the law. As a Marine officer I know he had sworn to obey the Constitution, and he didn’t. I’m also unclear how obstructing justice as he did interfaces with the Marines’ alleged focus on “honor”.

      1. North would presumably argue that he was obeying the Constitution, which leaves foreign policy to the President, and that Congress’ prohibition was itself unconstitutional.

        (I generally tend to agree with Congress’ argument that the Power of the Purse doesn’t care about that, myself.

        But equally, “making the money on the side selling to Iran” doesn’t need an appropriation from the general budget, so I can understand how one could make the counter-argument.

        And then we’re arguing about whether Congress can constrain the Foreign Policy power with laws saying “you can’t sell to Iran”.

        Which doesn’t have a clear, univocal answer in the Constitution.

        Even if, again, I tend to side with Congress on this as a matter of interpretation.)

      1. I’m not gonna bag on anyone who isn’t. They’re getting a little too close to the “mainstream conservative movement” for my taste, though I held my nose just recently.

        I don’t know how to go about disentangling, though, because their opponents cheerfully engtangle them.

        1. I’ll lightly bag on them, but I’ll also understand if they say no.

      2. “Why in the HELL are you not a NRA member?”

        You did grasp the subject of this discussion, right?

      3. Necro-post:

        Because their president sold guns to terrorists and gave money to narco-terrorists, AND supports an AWB.

  9. I mean, older people – who have more money, because they’ve had longer to amass it, if nothing else – are probably the target demographic for fund raising, even though we know that today’s young are tomorrow’s old. But maybe the NRA sees literal cash value in how Ollie resonates with the generation that makes up the majority of their fund-raising. I don’t have visibility into that. It certainly doesn’t do anything for the younger generations though. At best, it’s zero impact. It’s more likely bad optics and at worst, a turn-off. I cringed when I read the headline, and am only a little younger than Sebastian.
    I wonder why Brownell didn’t want his last year. Maybe he didn’t feel he had the cycles to contribute in the fashion that was needed. In that sense, if Ollie, being more media-savvy and maybe being more of an activist by fate or choice, can do a better job by addressing the challenges the NRA has today, all the better.

  10. optics of this are terrible. but then i don’t watch a lot of Fox News, so… bias?

  11. Just be glad they didn’t nominate such luminaries as Larry “wide stance” Craig hailing from the great state of Idaho. Nothing speaks better to modern leftist culture than a man pulling “don’t ask don’t tell” hijinx in the men’s bathroom stalls. I’m pretty surprised, actually.

  12. A dude who illegally ran arms is now the figurehead of an organization accused by leftists of being an arms proliferator.

    The fundraising emails from the gun control groups write themselves

    1. He wasn’t convicted of running guns. He was convicted of process crimes. All convictions were overturned on appeal.

      1. He was convicted in May, 1989, on three charges arising from his role in the scandal. But an appeals court later ordered Gesell to hold a special hearing to determine whether any of the witnesses at his trial had been influenced by North’s congressional testimony, which he had been assured would not be used against him in court.

        His own words were used to convict him.

        1. From your source:

          In July, 1990, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out North’s conviction on one count of destroying documents. The appeals panel set aside his convictions on the remaining two counts of aiding in the obstruction of Congress and accepting an illegal gratuity–a $14,000 security fence for his home.

          Process violations.

  13. If the American Left really want to relitigate the politics of the 1980s and US foreign policy and the Cold War, let them. History has been very very unkind to them, and the more they focus on the 80s the worse they look.

    Oliver North at least has the virtue of knowing how to handle himself and controversy with skill. Not a bad thing to have as a spokesman for the NRA.

    The whole reason North has fame is because the Democrats intended to crucify him in televised US Senate Hearings but it backfired on them because of his testimony.

    I’m old enough to remember just how poisonous politics were back then during the Reagan administration. The current acrimony and violation of established political norms we know today, had their origins back then, as the Left were shellshocked by the election of Reagan and the loss of the US Senate majority in 1980.

    Ever since the 1964 curbstomping loss of Goldwater, the Democrats/Liberals had been convinced they were the natural and permanent ruling majority of America.

  14. “it backfired on them because of his testimony.”

    It is ironic you are saying that after advising us not to re-litigate the ’80s.

    I personally don’t know anyone who doesn’t remember the bottom line of the incident being, North was guilty of gun-running, trading with the perpetually hated Iranians, and using the proceeds to support groups that today are generally remembered as being “death squads.” He got caught, convicted, and then got off on a technicality.

    Not strictly true as I stated it, only true as most people remember it.

    No one remembers his testimony at all, and I’d say these days, everyone has had a bellyful of all crooks couching their crimes in terms of “patriotism.” If North wowed the troops with patriotism in the 1980s, I think the base that buys it today is a lot smaller than it was then.

    I have personally never seen one of his Fox appearances, and it is hearsay to me that he has/had some kind of cable show of his own; so it sounds to me that as a Great Communicator he is only that with a base who seeks out what he’s selling.

    1. He hosted “War Stories with Oliver North” for years on Fox News Channel. I don’t think it had a large viewership, but it is pretty well known that he is a “presence” on FNC.

      I saw him speak at CPAC about 15 years ago. He was usually trotted out around the time WLP spoke, so I don’t doubt the NRA ties go back for years, probably at least since the 1990s. Interestingly enough the only person at my table who really knew who he was was a fellow millennial, though she was an “army brat” who knew about him mostly from her dad who was an Army officer I reckon. She did not have anything good to say about him.

  15. I’m glad I’m not the only one not smart enough to see the brilliant strategy. On the other hand, I’m glad it isn’t Ted Nugent.

  16. It appears the crack pipes are glowing white hot at NRA headquarters. My father just told me he wanted to gift me a life membership. I’m going to tell him I’ll pass. I like being able to step away when the NRA gets too stupid.

    The NRA needs to move out of the DC sphere and back to America. Mendacity and outright stupidity seems to be endemic to that region.

  17. I have no problem with Colonel North. He stood up to the scum sucking bottom feeders and made them look like the POS they are. He never ran guns to try to deny us of OUR constitutional rights……

    1. “He never ran guns to try to deny us of OUR constitutional rights……”

      With all apologies due Mr. Godwin, isn’t that a bit like saying “The Nazis never threw any real Germans into the ovens…”

      As I recall from history, if anyone made an argument like that at Nuremberg – that no upstanding Germans were harmed in the making of Hitler’s regime – it didn’t hold up very well.

      I’m also curious who the “us” you’re referring to is. Some people argue and believe everyone is harmed when loose cannons who know no restraints ride roughshod over the rule of law. Some think that eventually they’ll get around to your rights.

  18. Before he ran in The DC circles, he was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star and has 2 Purple Hearts.

    I like the choice. Not Heston, but who is Moses today?!?

    1. “…he was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star and has 2 Purple Hearts.”

      I’m recalling that old favorite office bulletin board, copy machine poster that ended “one awshit wipes the slate clean and you have to start all over again.” :-)

  19. I don’t understand why they choose him. I mean, come on. So many other better names.

  20. With all respect to Heston, LaPierre brought in Heston in a political back-stab against Neal Knox, who was in line to be NRA president.

    It was hard to know the truth of the many squabbles between Knox and LaPierre. Years later, when LaPierre wrote that “Knox even opposed Heston for president”, that cinched for me who was honest and who was not.

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