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Whenever I talk politics on this channel, I’m usually mocking and correcting conservatives, since with few exceptions they tend to have a lock on anti-science, and anti-woman, policies. But today I’m finally going to criticize a very famous Democratic politician . . . for inappropriately praising a conservative.
Hillary Clinton recently attended the funeral of past First Lady Nancy Reagan, and while doing so she gave an interview in which she stated, and I quote: “It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan, in particular, Mrs. Reagan, we started national conversation when before no one would talk about it, no one wanted to do anything about it, and that too is something that really appreciated, with her very effective, low-key advocacy, but it penetrated the public conscience and people began to say ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too.’”
Far be it from me to speak on behalf of the tens of thousands of people who lost their lives to AIDS while the Reagan administration laughed — literally laughed about it — for five years, but allow me to just say: fuuuuuuuuuck you.
Nancy Reagan helped start a national conversation about AIDS in the same way that Switzerland helped start a conversation about the Nazis: by ignoring it and hoping it would just go away.
Clinton has since Tweeted that she “misspoke,” by which I assume she means “said the complete opposite of the thing that was reality.” “Oh, did I say Bigfoot stole my car? I misspoke. Bigfoot does not exist and my car is still in the driveway.”
This is a crucial time for Clinton to engage in this kind of historical revision–many adults today aren’t old enough to remember the AIDS epidemic, let alone the Reagan administration’s complicity in it, so her comment could easily be accepted as fact by people who don’t know any better, in addition to people who are biased in favor of leadership that ignores immense social problems because they’re politically challenging. Like, say, America’s current epidemic of police violence, or gun violence, or domestic terrorism.
Because that’s exactly what the Reagans did, including Nancy: while literally tens of thousands of people were dying, they refused to do anything. When asked about the AIDS crisis repeatedly across multiple press conferences, Reagan’s press secretary again and again laughed it off, making jokes about the “gay plague” and saying that Reagan had no opinion on the crisis. When her friend Rock Hudson asked Nancy Reagan for help getting into a hospital for AIDS treatment, she refused. When one of the first doctors to diagnose and treat AIDS wrote to Reagan pleading him to ask the CDC and NIH to prioritize AIDS research in 1987 after more than 20,000 people had already died, he got a letter back thanking him for his support. It took five years before Ronald Reagan even uttered the word “AIDS” in public.
I’m incredibly disappointed with how Hillary Clinton summed all this up as the Reagans starting a conversation. They didn’t. They put their fingers in their ears and talked about UFOs and consulted psychics while tens of thousands of people died. We can’t forget that, because if we do, we’ll let it happen again and again.