The National Rifle Association announced on Monday that Oliver North — yes, the one from the ’80s — would be the organization’s next president.
“Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader,” said Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s chief executive, in a statement. “In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our President.”
LaPierre often serves as the public face of the NRA. North will take over from little-known Pete Brownell, who announced on Monday that he would not seek a second term in leadership.
North etched his name into the American consciousness in the mid-1980s when, as an aide to President Reagan, he secretly helped facilitate arms sales to Iran, then used the money to fund anti-Communist forces in Nicaragua. The resulting scandal, known as Iran-Contra, did serious damage to Reagan during his second term. North was convicted of three felonies, but all three were overturned by a federal judge in 1990.
Since then, North has become something of a populist hero among Republicans who see his victimization by a dishonorable establishment as a badge of honor. In that way, North is the perfect pick for the NRA, which has effectively become the paramilitary wing of a an increasingly fringe-friendly GOP.
As the NRA has become more and more intertwined with the Republican Party, it has in large transitioned from traditional Second Amendment advocacy to full-on propaganda. It churns out bizarre, paranoid videos, rails against the liberal media, and feeds on the paranoia of its most ardent fans.
North should fit right in.