You’ll have to excuse the mess, folks. My head just exploded.
"Yes, there have been appeasers in the past, and the president is exactly right, and one of them is Neville Chamberlain,’’ Mr. McCain told reporters on his campaign bus after a speech in Columbus, Ohio. “I believe that it’s not an accident that our hostages came home from Iran when President Reagan was president of the United States. He didn’t sit down in a negotiation with the religious extremists in Iran, he made it very clear that those hostages were coming home.‘’
For those who weren’t around during the period from 1980 to 1988, the Iran-Contra scandal occurred because from the beginning, Ronald Reagan and his people did quite a bit more than "appease" and negotiate with Iran. It’s the main reason that Reagan’s end-of-office approval ratings were lower than Bill Clinton’s among the general public, despite the media’s fluffing of Reagan and stuffing of Clinton.
Here’s a brief synopsis courtesy of Robert Parry:
The Iran-Contra scandal came out of a couple of different initiatives that the Reagan administration was following. One was the war in Nicaragua, which had to be done with a great deal of deception surrounding it because Congress had opposed much of that effort. The international community had opposed much of that effort, so the Reagan administration essentially took it underground with the work of people like Elliot Abrams and Oliver North and John Poindexter.
On one side there was an effort to maintain support for the contras, who were engaged in fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. On the other side there was a long-running policy, which we have traced back now to 1981, of secretly helping the Iranian government arm itself. The U.S. policy secretly supported both sides — both the Iranian fundamentalist government of Khomeini, and the more secular government of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Those two policies were running in parallel.
When the financing for the contras became more and more problematic, the Reagan administration decided to use some of the profits from selling arms to the Iranians to help support the contras. So, that became known as the Iran-Contra scandal when it finally broke.
When it broke, it nearly took down Reagan’s government. Not only had Reagan and his people been negotiating with and appeasing the Iranians for years, but the aid given to the Contras had been illegal up until fairly recently, as the three Boland Amendments forbidding such aid had been in force from 1982 to 1984. It took some superhuman efforts to firewall Reagan from being removed from office over this — efforts that Iran-Contra prosecutor Lawrence Walsh described in his book Firewall.
In a way, I guess it’s weirdly fitting. The media swallowed it without comment when George W. Bush, the grandson of Nazi-appeasing Prescott Bush, sternly came out against appeasing Nazis. Why shouldn’t they blow it off when their other hero, John Sidney McCain III, lies about Ronald Reagan’s role in Iran-Contra? They’ve got more important things to do, such as manufacturing hissy kabuki against Democratic presidential candidates. (Funny: It’s OK for Bush to call Candy Crowley "Dulce" on purpose, but when Obama does it by accident it’s much worse than either committing Iran-Contra or trying to lie it out of existence. Oh, well.) I’m just being silly — just because I can remember a time, pre-Rupert-Murdoch and pre-Sun-Myung-Moon, when Republican presidential candidates who said stupid-ass things (such as when Gerald R. Ford "freed" Eastern Europe) would get reamed out by the press for them. Give it up, Phoenix; it’s Chinatown.