North was there to bash the Obama administration—and to promote his new book, an “explosive new thriller.”
Naturally, the audience was receptive:
"The next big scandal … is going to be how the United States Government responds when the Iranians make an announcement that they've ceased their nuclear program and we're now going to sign a deal with a bunch of other countries saying all sanctions are now lifted," said North with a dramatic, conspiratorial tone he employs on Fox when he mentions Democratic Party presidencies.North, whose infamy (and fame, I guess) developed starting in 1986, has a history of speaking at local colleges. For instance, back 1993—a year before his failed bid to become a U.S. Senator—he spoke at Chapman University (North Will Speak at Chapman).
The Orange County audience—overwhelmingly dominated by folks with silver hair, pale pigmentation, hearing aids and, probably, coupons for 4 p.m. Sizzler dinner specials—moaned in disgust.
North's Appearance Draws Warm Reception; 9/21/96). The gig was arranged by then Assemblyman Bill Morrow.
You remember that guy. According to Wikipedia,
Morrow was elected to the California State Assembly to represent the 73rd District in 1992. … In 1998, Morrow was elected to the California State Senate with 60% of the vote to represent the 38th District. In 2000, he ran for the Congressional seat of retiring Representative Ron Packard and came in second to Darrell Issa.... Morrow was reelected to the Senate in 2002 with 66% of the vote.
Morrow, an off-road vehicle enthusiast, was caught and cited in 1996 by a ranger for doing "doughnuts" in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in a four-wheel-drive vehicle with special legislative license plates.Morrow also spoke at the 1996 Saddleback “Oliver North” event.
. . .
In 2005, Morrow made headlines when he formally joined the Minutemen anti-illegal immigration organization, serving several weekends watching the U.S./Mexico border near the small border community of Campo, California.
Morrow also became a hero to the skateboarding community. He pushed laws that reduced liability for skateboard accidents, making it feasible for cities to build skateboard parks.
A conservative Christian, Morrow also is a prominent advocate for "traditional family values." He is a pro-life leader on abortion issues and an opponent to experimentation on human embryonic stem cells. In 2005-06 Morrow authored Senate Constitutional Amendment 1, which limit marriage to "one man-one woman."
. . .
"Students Bill of Rights," which was modeled on David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights. Morrow introduced the bill "to help protect students in our public education system from harassment and abuse." However, some critics alleged that the bill's vaguely worded requirements—e.g., to respect the "unsettled character" of the social sciences and humanities—denied the distinction between plausible theories and implausible theories, giving theories like Holocaust denials an academic respect not warranted by the evidence." This criticism was given further support when Morrow publicly claimed the bill "treats all ideological perspectives the same." In addition, the bill required social science and humanities faculty to "provide students with dissenting sources and viewpoints." Given the bill's vague criteria, some critics alleged that this requirement could be used to force faculty to cover implausible theories in their classes. Though the bill gained some media attention, it never made it out of committee….
Here are some excerpts from the Times article covering the event (written by Michael Granberry):
…North was ready to field his first question.
The young man approached the microphone in the brightly lit Saddleback College gym and wanted to know about a recent newspaper series. Was what he had read [see] in the San Jose Mercury News really true, the man asked:
Did a connection exist between the Nicaraguan Contras whom North once supported and drug dealers in South-Central Los Angeles, who allegedly helped fund the Contras with proceeds from the sale of crack cocaine?
For the first time all day, North appeared momentarily flustered. Coy and cool from the moment he set foot on campus and embraced by virtually every adoring fan who extended a hand or hug, he suddenly sounded irked.
Calling it "a frivolous, crazy question," North, 52, told the man: "I want to be very specific. I do not know, nor have I ever known, anyone who would tolerate drugs coming into this country. . . .
"Where were these accusers in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 . . . when Congress conducted one of its longest inquisitions in history" into allegations that North masterminded a plan to finance the Contra rebels in Nicaragua by selling weapons to the Iranian government.
"Where were they then?" he demanded. "Can you tell me that?"
North's response was punctuated with more thunderous applause from the highly partisan crowd that packed one entire side of the Saddleback Gauchos basketball arena and included a who's who of Orange County's Republicans.
. . .
[Predicted] protests failed to materialize, with only one 60-year-old man from Dana Point holding up a sign that read "California Is Clinton Country" and jockeying for position with a handful of dark-suited students from the Young Americans for Freedom [see]. The latter group wore "YAF" on their lapels and carried such banners as "United We Stand, Liberal We Fall" and "Ollie Never Went Whitewater Rafting."
Aurnie Sutliffe, who appeared to be the lone Democrat anywhere in the vicinity, was outside the gym arguing to anyone who would listen that a Clinton supporter ought to be given equal time—even in Orange County, where recent polls show Clinton running neck-and-neck with challenger Bob Dole. "At a college of higher education, both sides ought to be given the opportunity to present their views," said Sutliffe, who seemed genuinely surprised upon being greeted warmly by a smiling North, who spotted the pro-Clinton sign en route to the gym and walked over to pump Sutliffe's hand and thank him for coming.
Moments later, North said he agreed with Sutliffe—that college campuses ought to be forums of every political view, even if it meant having to listen to the likes of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
"And furthermore," North told a reporter, "I'd be disappointed if there weren't a few protesters."
. . .
It is relevant, said North, who wore his boyish, gap-toothed grin most of the day and whose answers occasionally provoked murmurs of surprise among the crowd, though in no way chilling their enthusiasm.
After being serenaded by a drill team that wore glittery American flags as tight-fitting vests, and getting to meet the great-great-grandson of Francis Scott Key, North took aim at the street curfews imposed on teenagers by some cities. Hitler, he said, was a big fan of such curfews….