Pathological Pandering: A Case Study

Hillary and Nancy

Today, on the day she attended Nancy Reagan’s funeral in Simi Valley, California,  Hillary Clinton praised her for confronting AIDS, which emerged during her husband’s first term, telling MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell….

“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about H.I.V./AIDS back in the 1980s. And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan – in particular, Mrs. Reagan – we started a national conversation, when before nobody would talk about it. Nobody wanted anything to do with it.”

As anyone who was alive at the time remembers, however, and as the families and friends of gay victims of the disease will never forget, the Reagans went out of their way to ignore AIDS as long as possible. Despite desperate calls for action from the government by the frightened and mourning gay community, Mrs. Reagan  did not mention H.I.V. or AIDS publicly until 1985 and did not give a speech about the disease until 1987. Harshly judging the Reagans in retrospect may or may not be too harsh, but praising Nancy for what Clinton today called her “low-key advocacy” defies reason and reality.

This latest of Clinton’s re-imagining of the past, however, didn’t slip by as so many others have. Gay activists and other erupted with anger, and the social media was on fire with ridicule for the idea that Nancy Reagan was an AIDS crusader. There were even calls for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay-rights group, to revoke its endorsement of Hillary.

Clinton then apologized, putting her in the position of highlighting a lowlight of Mrs. Reagan’s career on the day she was buried.

“While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, I misspoke about their record on H.I.V. and AIDS,” she said in a statement about two hours after her interview had been shown on MSNBC. “For that, I’m sorry.”

At least she didn’t say that it hadn’t been the best thing to say.

What does this episode tell us? It tells us that Hillary Clinton will say whatever she thinks will endear herself to whoever she is trying to appeal to at a given moment, and facts are completely, absolutely of no concern to her as she does it.  This time, it happens that she was caught, and that a segment of her base, rather than those she could accuse of being part of a conspiracy against her, forced her to accept responsibility and back down.

How can anyone say that they trust this woman, not just to be President, but about anything?

13 thoughts on “Pathological Pandering: A Case Study

  1. This is indeed bizarre. Did she think she was cozying up to AIDS activists? If so, bad judgment, because they turned on her. Did she think she was cozying up to Republicans? Bad judgment, because they’d probably resent the appearance of appropriating Nancy for a leftist cause. Either way, it looks like bad judgment. Who’d she think was going to approve of this revisionist history?

  2. I hear you, and you’re of course right. Yet, I have yet to hear a SINGLE politician give a straight answer to ANY question this time around. Not Bernie, not Donald, not Kasich, not Rubio, not Carly, and not Hillary. And of course none of their campaign aides either. Today Rubio’s aide was insisting that of course they were going to win Florida. SPIN = LIE as far as I’m concerned. I’d fall off my chair if I heard a candidiate give a straight answer to a question these days.

    I personally can no longer stand to watch the Sunday morning shows except for GPS, and I turn that one off when he interviews people. The only ones I watch anymore are Morning Joe and With All Due Respect, simply because they do mostly commentary and no interviews.

    I’m not trying to excuse Hillary– a lie is pretty much a lie – but at the same time it hardly distinguishes her either. You could find lies on the front page from every single candidate today, and that even includes past candidates like Ken Barson.

    What does it say when, to figure out which candidate to vote for, you pretty much have to screen out what the candidates themselves are saying?

    I get asked a lot, since my area of study for the last 18 years is trust, exactly why it is that politicians are the least trusted professions in the world (in Gallup and Yankelovich polls, they rank right around used car salesmen and – sorry – lawyers).

    The case of politicians USED to be somewhat defensible. If the job of a politician is to find common ground, to compromise, then you absolutely needed to have a FEW principles, but damn few – and almost no permanently held policy viewpoints. Because you couldn’t work deals with others if you were intransigent. And unfortunately, that inevitably leads to the perception that they are unprincipled.

    Well, that line of defense no longer holds. In this day and age, politicians are no longer interested in compromise. Instead, they are interested in getting elected, and in demonizing the Other.

    –We have been excessively gerrymandered to the point where nearly all districts are uncontested.

    –We have been Gingriched (and Reided, to be fair) to the point that party discipline in Congress forbids all contact with the “enemy” opposing party.

    –We have been power-politicked to the point that one party (and yes, my bias is showing here) has stated its entire term’s legislative agenda was to un-elect a President (and now, an entire year’s agenda is to be aimed at avoiding confirming judges).

    –We have been partisan-politicked to the point where one side cheers at successfully shutting down a campaign rally in Chicago today.

    This isn’t entirely new, of course. I remember Robert McNamara saying, “Never answer the question a reporter asks you; answer the question you wanted the reporter to ask you.” (Which of course explains why no one trusted McNamara).

    Still, trust is measurably down in society these days, and has been perceptibly trending down for a couple of decades. Politics is a big part of it; demonization, divisiveness and incivility are all reflected more and more in the public sphere, and we are all the worse for it.

    Please forgive the rambling…

  3. I just think that Hillary is somehow still stuck in the 80s and doesn’t understand the role that videocameras play. She seems to really think that she can say one thing to one crowd and then completely contradict herself the following day to a different group.

    Every time she was confronted with evidence about how she lied about her Bosnia sniper-fire story, she just offered a slightly different version of the story, and then that version would turn out false too as well. And her supporters blamed media outlets like CNN for being “anti-Hillary” because they had the audacity to report the facts and show the video.

    It must be exhausting to lie and change your story continuously, rather than to just tell the truth once.

    • You’d figure if she were stuck in the 80’s, she’d remember them. No, Hillary, as always, lies because that’s what she does. She lies about big things, small things, obvious things, things it’s impossible she won’t get called on, things that won’t have an effect on anything, things that will probably result in a lawsuit, and things that are cripplingly, utterly tone deaf. I’m convinced that it’s actually a breathing mechanism for her reptilian form, and if she stopped lying, she would suffocate.

  4. Jack asked, “What does this episode tell us” and said, “Hillary Clinton will say whatever she thinks will endear herself to whoever she is trying to appeal to at a given moment, and facts are completely, absolutely of no concern to her as she does it.”

    The Clinton’s don’t do or say anything without an end game in mind.

    Didn’t anyone think that this could have been an intentional political orchestration from the Clinton camp to publicly undercut the Reagan’s popularity with a seemingly “unintentional” flanking smear thus bringing to the forefront again the actions taken by the Clinton’s regarding H.I.V./AIDS?

    The Clinton’s know the political game, and they play it well.

    This just popped in my head; does anyone remember the episode of the TV series Sliders in the late 1990’s where the sliders ended up in a reality where Hillary Clinton was the President not Bill?

  5. I received this from another former AIDS-care specialist last week but wasn’t going to post it here both because it is incendiary (which rarely has good purpose: witness Trump) and because it reflects more vitriol than I felt even at the time, but you might as well know the extent of the reaction that was there then and persists now.

  6. Perhaps we shouldn’t insist on politicians attending other politicians’ funerals unless they knew them personally. Right now, if they don’t attend, it looks bad and disrespectful. But if they do attend, they have to do research beforehand so their platitudes don’t look bad and disrespectful.

    • It didn’t take a lot of research to know that the Reagans were slow to see the seriousness of the AIDS crisis. I think this is the equivalent of saying that Hillary should have researched whether she was really under fire in Bosnia.

    • It strikes me, and perhaps I’m wrong, but it strikes me as two of the what… five women? On earth that belonged to the “First Ladies Club.” That Hillary and Nancy probably knew each other fairly well.

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