Pretty much everyone knows that Hillary Clinton put her foot in it when she praised Nancy Reagan after her death, listing as one of her accomplishments that she helped start a national conversation over AIDS. This created a serious backlash by those well aware that the Reagans, while in the White House, not only did not do anything about it until his final year in office, but that White House press briefings, when responding to questions about the issue, became chuckle-fests with innuendo and snide references to the ‘gay plague’.
Clinton has quickly moved to apologize for her mistake, though many are still wondering how she could have got so wrong something that was so strongly resented about the Reagans in the LGBT community and is so well known. JE Reich provides a timeline of Clinton’s gaffe and subsequent apology.
I think that this is emblematic of Clinton’s desire to be all things to all people, such as her ambivalent stand on labor rights, serving on the board of union-busting Walmart and now opposing trade deals that she once supported.
In this case, I think she also fell prey to what is a common temptation, to reach for anything good to say about the dead, that I wrote about in reference to the eulogies delivered for justice Antonin Scalia. People tend to go overboard at such times, not just talking about the good and ignoring the bad but painting over the bad with a false picture.
I am sure that when Henry Kissinger or Dick Cheney die, there will be those who will praise them as statesmen when they have the blood of millions on their hands. And I expect the Clintons to be among them.