Colbert Mocks Reaganites for Bad History, Falsely Says Reagan 'Looked the Other Way' on Saddam's 1988 Gas Attack

On Monday’s edition of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, fake conservative Stephen Colbert mocked the “fan-fiction foreign policy” of Reagan admirers. He ran clips of Bill O’Reilly telling James Carville that Reagan would have gone to war in Syria, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen saying Reagan "would stand up to this...he would say chemical use was unacceptable."

Then Colbert claimed Reagan “looked the other way when Saddam gassed his own Kurdish citizens.” Wrong. Get out the Pinocchios. It's true Reagan didn’t go to war in Iraq -- if you want to call that "looking the other way" --  but Reagan did denounce the gassing of the Kurds in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in 1988. Colbert doesn't care about accuracy. He just wants to mock his "fellow" conservatives:


COLBERT: Yes, we conservatives have an uncanny ability to know what Ronald Reagan would do at any given time. Syrian conflict? Invade. Obamacare? Repeal? Super salad? Jelly beans.

That's why we know, we conservatives know that the Gipper would never stand for the use of chemical weapons... today. Of course in the 1980's his administration ignored chemical attacks by Saddam Hussein that killed thousands of Iranian troops and looked the other way when Saddam gassed his own Kurdish citizens.

But remember, that's the old Reagan. We're talking about hypothetical, contemporary, super Reagan, the one... the man who never raised taxes, or tripled the deficit and who knocked down the Berlin Wall using his nut sack as a wrecking ball!

This included a tasteless fake photo of the president's enormous testicles. Colbert was actually ripping off the “sardonic”humor of Ted Koppel, who in 2003 talked about impending war in Iraq:

"There's a sardonic two-liner making the rounds in Washington these days: ''How do we know that Saddam Hussein has biological and chemical weapons? We have the receipts.' Nasty, but there's an element of truth to it." Koppel added "there wasn't a great deal of outrage from the Reagan-Bush White House" when Saddam gassed his own people in 1988.

As Brent Bozell noted ten years ago, what's hard to locate in 1988 is a lot of national media outrage about the chemical weapons use in Iraq. Just like the Syrians now, the Iraqis denied any responsibility for chemical weapons attacks. It's classic for journalists to mock politicians for their inattention to a grave matter to which they paid little attention.

History shows Reagan was not eager to send troops into combat in the Middle East, despite the media's tendency to categorize him as a bellicose warmonger. Here is some of what President Reagan declared at the United Nations on September 26, 1988:

Half a world away -- far from this place of peace -- the firing, the killing, the bloodshed in two merciless conflicts have for the first time in recent memory diminished. After adding terrible new names to the rollcall of human horror -- names such as Halabja, Maidan Shahr, and Spin Buldak -- there is today hope of peace in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan....

And yet, even as diplomatic and technological progress holds out the hope of at last diminishing the awful cloud of nuclear terror we have lived under in the post-war era, even at this moment another ominous terror is loose once again in the world. A terror we thought the world had put behind, a terror that looms at us now from the long, buried past; from ghostly, scarring trenches and the haunting, wan faces of millions dead in one of the most inhumane conflicts of all time.

Poison gas. Chemical warfare.

Mr. Secretary-General, distinguished delegates, the terror of it. The horror of it. We condemn it. The use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war -- beyond its tragic human toll -- jeopardizes the moral and legal strictures that have held these weapons in check since World War I. Let this tragedy spark reaffirmation of the Geneva protocol outlawing the use of chemical weapons.

I call upon the signatories to that protocol, as well as other concerned states, to convene a conference to consider actions that we can take together to reverse the serious erosion of this treaty. And we urge all nations to cooperate in negotiating a verifiable, truly global ban on chemical weapons at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. It is incumbent upon all civilized nations to ban, once and for all -- and on a verifiable and global basis -- the use of chemical and gas warfare.
 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis