In 1170 Henry II cried out, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?" Henry's barons responded to his entreaties with the murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.
Eight centuries later, Ronald Reagan, prevented by Congress from legally aiding the contras in Nicaragua, informed his staff that such aid should nevertheless continue. As we all now know, a circuitous means of securing such assistance was developed.
Henry may or may not have intended the ultimate result of his outburst, but history has held him responsible for the martyrdom; indeed, he did public penance for the act. Now, the murder is the most widely remembered event of Henry's reign.
Likewise, Reagan may not have specifically approved the diversion of arms sale profits, but he has accepted responsibility for the affair and history seems destined to agree with him. The final ironic parallel is that the Iran-contra fiasco is on its way to becoming the most remembered event of the Reagan presidency.