Let me just preface this by saying that while I really like Bernie Sanders and have been hoping that he’ll get the Democratic nomination, I don’t go around trashing Hillary Clinton, either. I’ve been of the belief that either would make a great candidate, and that I’d support (from Canada) either of them and tell people “You need to vote for this person!” because America needs to keep a Republican out of the White House. However, even candidates that we support sometimes need to be called out on things, and Hilary Clinton needs to called out (as people have been doing, thank goodness) on remarks she made on March 11 about Nancy Reagan’s record on the AIDS crisis as it emerged in America.
Content Note: US Election 2016, Hilary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Reagan Response to AIDS crisis
Image Description: Hilary Clinton, wearing a pink jacket, white blouse, and chunky necklace, looks into camera and smiles during a 2014 TV appearance.
I’m quite concerned about Hilary Clinton’s remarks, not just because they were utter bullshit, but because I’m not sure now what to think about Hillary Clinton.
Here’s some CNN commentary about Hillary Clinton’s remarks to MSNBC:
Host: I want to talk to you about some comments for which Hilary Clinton has apologized, characterizing the Reagan administration, specifically Nancy Reagan’s advocacy as it relates to the AIDS outbreak in the 1980s. Watch and listen.
(Cut to Hilary Clinton talking to press)
Clinton: 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 Reagan and Mrs. Reagan, in particular Mrs. Reagan, we started a national conversation when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it, uh, and, you know, that is something that I really appreciate. With her very effective, low-key advocacy, it penetrated the public conscience, and people began to say, “Hey. We really need to do something about this.”
(Cut to CNN Studio)
Host: Well, there was major backlash after her comments were aired from the human rights campaign GLAAD. I mean the record is that the Reagans did not act quickly enough, many will say; did not advocate for people who were suffering from this then-new disease. Ronald Reagan didn’t utter the word or use the acronym AIDS until 1985. She did, Senator Clinton, release this statement on Twitter. She said: “While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, I misspoke about their record on HIV and AIDS. For that, I’m sorry.” First, just generally, how does something like this happen? Because it wasn’t just like a quick quip where she said something that was inaccurate. She went on for quite some time describing something that just did not happen.
Maria Cardona: Well, you know, um, I think this is a circumstance where we have to look at the context. Hilary Clinton was at Nancy Reagan’s funeral, and I think she was trying to find ways to honour her life’s work. Yes, she misspoke, and she talked about something that was not true and it was hurtful to a lot of people. But also to her credit, she acknowledged it, she took responsibility for it, she apologized for it, and I think that is going to be enough. And she reacted to the backlash because a lot of her supporters are those LGBTQ activists.
Judging from reactions that I’ve seen yesterday and today, it’s going to take a lot more than a weak apology on Twitter to undo the damage caused by her statements.
She did not “misspeak” about how Nancy Reagan handled the AIDS crisis.
The Reagans and the AIDS Crisis – I Don’t Remember, But I Learned
Hillary may think that ABC’s viewers may not remember what happened when AIDS first emerged in America, but I think that she’ll learn (if she hasn’t already) that this isn’t the case. And a whole lot of people have learned about it. I wrote an essay about it in high school, totally unprepared for what I was going to find when I began my research. What I learned from (from Randy Shilts’ “And the Band Played On: People, Politics, and the AIDS Epidemic”, mainly) shocked me and broke my heart. I was just 18. I didn’t know that governments could (or would) treat sick people that way. Writing that essay had a powerful impact on me, more so than most of the writing I’ve done.
Later on, I read transcripts from the era. They fleshed out a terrible history of rampant discrimination, where people died of an unknown disease and the government didn’t care because it was only showing up in gay people, prostitutes, and intravenous drug users. Shame on Hillary Clinton and her revisionist history that in thirty seconds swept that ugliness under the rug and made the government sound like it was instead doing good at the time.
My Concern Now About Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton’s history is in general a blind spot for me. I don’t know a whole lot about Benghazi, except that there were a lot of investigations that found nothing. I know a bit more about the email server issue, but not enough to explain it to someone thoroughly.
I’d been giving her the benefit of the doubt on these things and assuming her innocence. But seeing her lie so easily makes me nervous. Seeing her lie about something that’s so widely known and easily disproved makes me nervous. I mean, I’m Canadian and I’ve known about this since I was 18.
What does it say about Hillary Clinton, and about what she actually thinks of the voters?
I’m quite thrown off by this, and not sure what to do with it.
ETA: Today, I found this article written by Hillary Clinton, on Medium…by accident. I see that it’s also on her Facebook page, but I only went there to check because a comment prompted me – I’ve never looked at Hillary Clinton’s Facebook page before today, It’s entirely possible that I might have missed this article if I hadn’t gone wandering on the Medium site. For that reason alone, I’m not sure what to think of it, but there are a couple of other things that leave me cold: 1) There’s no apology 2) She doesn’t explain *why* she said what she did, granted that she knows all this history. I actually feel like she may have dug the hope deeper with this.