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A Dream Ticket for '88--Ollie and Jane

August 23, 1987|HARRY G. SUMMERS JR. | Col. Harry G. Summers Jr., now a contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report, won the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for valor and was twice wounded in action while serving as an infantry officer in Vietnam.

Now that the "Ollie for President" campaign buttons and T-shirts are already printed, the only thing left is to find Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North a running mate. And there's a candidate who would fill the bill exactly--none other than that celebrated actress and activist, Jane Fonda.

It'd be a dream ticket. They've both proved that if you're attractive enough, brazen enough and a good enough actor (and if Ollie doesn't get an Emmy for his stunning performance on Capitol Hill, there's something wrong with the system), you can get away with anything. Not only can you get away with it, the public will love you for it, reward you handsomely and defend you from your critics.

Take Fonda, for example. During the Vietnam War she managed to make Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose look like patriots.They only made propaganda broadcasts for the enemy, but Jane did them even better. In addition to her 1972 broadcasts from Hanoi, she harangued our POWs on their prison radio and topped it off by donning a North Vietnamese army helmet and posing for publicity shots at the controls of an enemy anti-aircraft gun.

The fact that these were her fellow American citizens--U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine fighter and bomber crews who had been ordered into action over Hanoi by a President and a Congress duly elected by the American people--didn't faze her in the least.

Had she looked like Kate Millett, she would probably have been hung for treason. But you can't hang Barbarella. Not only did Fonda escape unscathed, but subsequently the American public showered her with millions for her exercise videos and she was even honored with an Academy Award.

And 15 years later when a mild version of her Hanoi trip (without the stint as an anti-aircraft gunner) was portrayed in the movie "Hanoi Hilton," the reviewers were furious that she had been so terribly abused. There is no doubt that she fully qualifies as a worthy running mate for Ollie North.

Like Jane, Ollie too was motivated by a higher cause. Never mind that the Boland amendments prohibiting aid to the contras had been enacted by the Congress--in Alexander Hamilton's words, "the representatives of the people, periodically elected." And never mind that those amendments had not only not been challenged but had actually been signed into law by President Reagan himself. Such minor details be damned. Ollie knew best what was right for the country and was not about to let legal technicalities stand in the way.

Lying to the Congress, shredding evidence and anything else that was necessary was not only justifiable, it was neato-keen.

Had Ollie looked and sounded like Curtis LeMay, the reaction might have been different. The sight of a military officer unrepentantly bragging that he had run roughshod over the Constitution would have brought screams of outrage and cries of alarm. But you can't get mad at someone who looks and sounds like a young Jimmy Stewart. Instead of outrage there was adulation.

No matter that Ollie's offenses were potentially much more dangerous than Jane's. While despicable, in the long run her actions were not particularly damaging. As University of Rochester Prof. John Mueller found, such antics actually prolonged U.S. support for the Vietnam War, for no matter how much the "silent majority" of the American people was turned off by the war they were still even more repelled by the excesses of the anti-war movement.

But Ollie is another matter. With his contempt for the Congress, and with actions now disowned by the President himself, he was threatening the very foundation of American democracy--the subordination of the military to civilian control. Yet there are those who hail him as a hero and a patriot.

The fact is that Ollie and Jane are a perfect match. As zealots they both fit Eric Hoffer's classic definition of the true believer. Not only that, they complement each other. Where Jane is the sweetheart of the left, Ollie is the darling of the right. Together they could nail down both ends of the political spectrum.

Ollie and Jane. Or, if you prefer, Jane and Ollie. What a team. And what a wondrous photo opportunity those two beautiful people would provide. Can't you see them now on the "Donahue" show or on the cover of People magazine? Given the public penchant for pretty faces, they might even get elected.

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