This Is Why Hillary Clinton's Comments About Nancy Reagan Still Matter

Her remarks on the late first lady's legacy on HIV and AIDS can't be forgotten.

Hillary Clinton may have quickly apologized for her comments on Friday praising fellow former First Lady Nancy Reagan for her "effective" and "low key advocacy" on HIV and AIDS, but for many the remarks are still problematic.

Michelle Goldberg noted in Slate how absurd the former Secretary of State's comments were, given that the Reagan administration publicly laughed at the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Nancy Reagan did little to sway her husband, Goldberg said. 

"In policy terms, Clinton’s misguided praise for Nancy Reagan doesn't mean much; there’s certainly no reason to think she’d follow Reagan’s disgraceful example as president," Goldberg wrote. "But her words suggest that, on some deep level, she really is out of touch with progressive concerns."

Richard Kim wrote in The Nation that giving the Reagans credit for starting a conversation about HIV and AIDS was like giving George Wallace, the racist Alabama governor, credit for starting a national conversation about segregation. Kim wrote that while he did not think Clinton's comments signaled a shift on gay rights, they did show a lack of empathy to and awareness about HIV positive people and the gay community.

"And her apology, which doesn’t acknowledge the righteous pain caused by her remarks, indicates a social distance that gay men might want to take a closer look at," Kim wrote. " My hope is that she issues a new statement, one that really understands the gay community’s struggle with HIV/AIDS, the callousness of the Reagan administration, and pledges to do much, much, much better."

Noah Michelson, editorial director of The Huffington Post Voices, responded to Clinton's comments by writing about the impact AIDS had on his family.

"When I think of Hillary Clinton offering her eloquent ode yesterday to Nancy Reagan for the late first lady's supposed "very effective, low key [AIDS] advocacy" -- thereby not only ignoring the horrible, evil truth of what happened but actually rewriting history and casting Reagan as some kind of hero, I am absolutely furious and I don't know what to do with myself," he wrote. "When I think of Clinton then tweeting her terse, 30-word apology for "misspeaking," as if she had simply bungled some trivial sports score or box office tally, I am absolutely furious and I don't know what to do with myself."



Hillary Clinton