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Michael Specter – Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, and AIDS

It will take somebody with more psychiatric sophistication than me to figure out how Hillary Clinton could have come to praise Ronald and Nancy Reagan, as she initially did earlier today, for having started the American conversation about AIDS “when, before, nobody talked about it.”

President Reagan’s first speech on the subject wasn’t until May 31, 1987. By then, more than twenty-five thousand people, the majority of them gay men, had died in the United States. His Administration ridiculed people with AIDS—his spokesman, Larry Speakes, made jokes about them at press conferences—and while I do think it rude to speak ill of the dead, particularly on the day of a funeral, this issue cannot be ignored. Nancy Reagan refused to act in any way in 1985 to help her friend Rock Hudson when he was in Paris dying of AIDS. (Last year, Buzzfeed published documents that make this clear.)

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