It is, indeed, shocking to learn that one of the leading candidates for the office of the President of the United States is so insensitive to the meaning of our Constitution and the fundamental premises of our democratic institutions that he believes that the end justifies the means.
"Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, who admitted to lying to Congress and destroying government records to conceal his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, has been praised by Vice President George Bush as someone who will go down in history as a hero who feels passionately about his country and patriotism." (Part I, Dec. 5.)
"Patriotism," said Samuel Johnson, "is the last refuge of a scoundrel," and it would be hard to find a more committed scoundrel than North, who took refuge not only in his claim of patriotism but his fervent belief that the end justifies the means.
In our own time Hitler believed the end--of purging Germany of the insidious influence of Jewish capitalism and the Jewish dilution of the purity of Teutonic blood--justified the means of the Holocaust. The rulers of Japan around Emperor Hirohito believed that the end--of providing room for Japanese expansionism--justified the means of a devastating sneak attack on our armed forces and the ensuing war. Richard Nixon believed (until forced by the Supreme Court to alter his belief) that the end--of keeping the American public in the dark about his illegal taping of conversations--justified the means of refusing to produce them for a congressional committee. And North believes, to this day, that the end--of accomplishing a presidential objective with which Congress is not in agreement--justifies the means of lying under oath to Congress, shredding government documents, removing government documents from their official file and a host of other illegalities.