George V. Reilly

Hillary Clinton "Misspeaks" about Nancy Reagan and AIDS

In an interview with MSNBC Friday, 2016 Democratic pres­i­den­tial candidate Hillary Clinton said that Ronald and Nancy Reagan helped start a national con­ver­sa­tion about HIV/AIDS. This is not exactly a bald-faced lie, but it is a gross mis­un­der­stand­ing of history and a mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the true gov­ern­men­tal neglect during the AIDS epidemic that killed millions worldwide.

—Mathew Rodriguez,

As I wrote on Facebook earlier today:

I’m really surprised by this. I expected Hillary Clinton to know better. It’s one thing not to speak ill of the dead at their funeral. It’s quite another to make such a profoundly wrong assertion. The Reagan White House’s negligence and homophobia was directly re­spon­si­ble for the growth of the AIDS pandemic in the early years.

Clinton later made a weak apology saying that she "misspoke."

Ronald Reagan stood by for six years, waiting until 1987 to give a major speech about AIDS. By that point, 20,000 were dead of AIDS in the US alone. But most of the dead were gays or minorities or in­tra­venous drug users, despised by the Re­pub­li­cans. Nancy Reagan was complicit in that.

I’m amazed and dis­ap­point­ed that Clinton got it so wrong, both in the interview and in the walk-back. She’s clearly a well-informed, in­tel­li­gent woman, who’s led in the past over AIDS issues. I expect better.

Update 2016-03-12: Clinton has issued a much better apology. It doesn’t take the Reagans to task for their inaction but it is otherwise much better informed and ac­knowl­edges the dev­as­ta­tion past and present of AIDS and HIV.

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