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Hillary’s Bubble

By now you know that Hillary spectacularly stepped in it a couple of days ago when she praised Nancy Reagan for “starting a national conversation” about AIDS. Here are her exact words,

“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/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 to do anything about it, and that too is something that I really appreciate with her very effective, low key advocacy but it penetrated the public conscious and people began to say, ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too.'”

If you already didn’t know it, you know now that what Hillary said is literally the opposite of the truth. Not only did the Reagans ignore the suffering and death of the nameless, faceless masses who were dying, but their cruelty also extended to their personal circle of friends. Rock Hudson, who was a personal friend sent a plea for help to Nancy in his final days. She refused him. The Reagans were not nice people. They were not compassionate people, and they were not intelligent people. No intelligent person would assume that this disease that’s plaguing the dreaded gays who are “getting what they deserve”, would think that the spread would be limited to those they deem to be the dregs of society. They were stupid, stupid, loathsome people.

So why did Hillary say what she said? Before I get to that, I want to share a statement she put out last night,

Yesterday, at Nancy Reagan’s funeral, I said something inaccurate when speaking about the Reagans’ record on HIV and AIDS. Since then, I’ve heard from countless people who were devastated by the loss of friends and loved ones, and hurt and disappointed by what I said. As someone who has also lost friends and loved ones to AIDS, I understand why. I made a mistake, plain and simple.

I want to use this opportunity to talk not only about where we’ve come from, but where we must go in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

To be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS. That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day.

The AIDS crisis in America began as a quiet, deadly epidemic. Because of discrimination and disregard, it remained that way for far too long. When many in positions of power turned a blind eye, it was groups like ACT UP, Gay Men’s Health Crisis and others that came forward to shatter the silence — because as they reminded us again and again, Silence = Death. They organized and marched, held die-ins on the steps of city halls and vigils in the streets. They fought alongside a few courageous voices in Washington, like U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, who spoke out from the floor of Congress.

Then there were all the people whose names we don’t often hear today — the unsung heroes who fought on the front lines of the crisis, from hospital wards and bedsides, some with their last breath. Slowly, too slowly, ignorance was crowded out by information. People who had once closed their eyes opened their hearts.

If not for those advocates, activists, and ordinary, heroic people, we would not be where we are in preventing and treating HIV and AIDS. Their courage — and their refusal to accept silence as the status quo — saved lives.

We’ve come a long way. But we still have work to do to eradicate this disease for good and to erase the stigma that is an echo of a shameful and painful period in our country’s history.
This issue matters to me deeply. And I’ve always tried to do my part in the fight against this disease, and the stigma and pain that accompanies it. At the 1992 Democratic National Convention, when my husband accepted the nomination for president, we marked a break with the past by having two HIV-positive speakers — the first time that ever happened at a national convention. As First Lady, I brought together world leaders to strategize and coordinate efforts to take on HIV and AIDS around the world. In the Senate, I put forward legislation to expand global AIDS research and assistance and to increase prevention and education, and I proudly voted for the creation of PEPFAR and to defend and protect the Ryan White Act. And as secretary of state, I launched a campaign to usher in an AIDS-free generation through prevention and treatment, targeting the populations at greatest risk of contracting HIV.

The AIDS crisis looks very different today. There are more options for treatment and prevention than ever before. More people with HIV are leading full and happy lives. But HIV and AIDS are still with us. They continue to disproportionately impact communities of color, transgender people, young people and gay and bisexual men. There are still 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States today, with about 50,000 people newly diagnosed each year. In Sub-Saharan Africa, almost 60 percent of people with HIV are women and girls. Even though the tools exist to end this epidemic once and for all, there are still far too many people dying today.

That is absolutely inexcusable.

I believe there’s even more we can — and must — do together. For starters, let’s continue to increase HIV and AIDS research and invest in the promising innovations that research is producing. Medications like PrEP are proving effective in preventing HIV infection; we should expand access to that drug for everyone, including at-risk populations. We should call on Republican governors to put people’s health and well-being ahead of politics and extend Medicaid, which would provide health care to those with HIV and AIDS.

We should call on states to reform outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws. We should increase global funding for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. And we should cap out-of-pocket expenses and drug costs—and hold companies like Turing and Valeant accountable when they attempt to gouge patients by jacking up the price of lifesaving medications.

We’re still surrounded by memories of loved ones lost and lives cut short. But we’re also surrounded by survivors who are fighting harder than ever. We owe it to them and to future generations to continue that fight together. For the first time, an AIDS-free generation is in sight. As president, I promise you that I will not let up until we reach that goal. We will not leave anyone behind.

That was a good apology. She unequivocally took responsibility for fucking up. “I made a mistake, plain and simple” is the kind of apology that we need to hear more often. I’m of the opinion that when someone apologizes for something in earnest, you accept the apology and move on. Not accepting this type of apology discourages people from making honest apologies. If you want good behavior from people, you have to applaud it when it happens. If there’s no positive reinforcement for good behavior, you’re just encouraging bad behavior. Moving on entails not holding this against her anymore, but it does not entail forgetting about it.

So why did she say it? She’s running for president against an insurgent candidate who is turning out to be a much bigger threat than she had ever anticipated, so why would she say something so stupid and blatantly untrue? Because she believed it when she said it. I read once that our memories are 78% inaccurate or flat out lies. You can see that’s probably true when you read multiple witness statements to a crime. People don’t see the same thing while something is happening. And then our memories take over to further embellish and rewrite what we saw differently from the guy next to us in the first place. That 78% statistic doesn’t seem unbelievable to me.

Hillary believes that Nancy Reagan was a better person than she really was because everyone who knows a terrible person believes they’re better than they really are. We’re all guilty of this. All of us. No, you’re not exempt. Trust me, you’ve done it too and so have I. These are bubbles we all live in. Hillary’s bubble is made up of politicos, lobbyists, and corporate executives so she definitely knows more terrible people than the average bear.

This bubble is what made Hillary think that bringing up Henry Kissinger at a democratic debate was a good idea. Do some of you think that Bernie brought it up first? Well, that memory would fall into that 78% statistic I cited earlier. Hillary was the first to mention Kissinger,

“I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better than anybody had run it in a long time. So I have an idea about what it’s going to take to make our government work more efficiently.”

Bernie didn’t actually throw that back in her face until the next debate. Being flattered at Henry Kissinger’s high opinion of you and then bragging about it to a democratic debate audience is as bubblicious as it gets. In her mind, Kissinger is beloved and respected because he’s someone she knows well. She and Bill used to spend winter vacations with the Kissingers and Oscar de la Renta.

Her opinion of Henry Kissinger, and the magnitude to which that opinion is divorced from reality is a function of the bubble. You can’t despise very many people that you routinely socialize with, and that run in your circles. Again, this isn’t a Hillary issue. This is something we all do. Just talk to the family members of any cop who shot an unarmed person. They’re all really good people who made one mistake or worse yet, didn’t make a mistake at all because they’re just that righteous. I digress.

Hillary’s bubble is full of people who have done terrible things to the middle class and the poor. That’s just par for the course when you’ve lived Hillary Clinton’s life. She didn’t choose to surround herself with terrible people. They chose her because of her position. Lloyd Blankfein, Henry Kissinger, and Nancy Reagan just come with the job. Respecting, admiring, supporting, and sharing the values of those people is just a function of human nature. It’s not a failing on Hillary’s part and I don’t blame her for it.

But I don’t like it, and I don’t like what it means for a Hillary Clinton presidency. That’s just me. When “democrats” like Diane Feinstein, Claire McCaskill, and Chris Dodd endorse Hillary, I’m moved in the opposite direction because that’s the bubble that has kept wages flat for the past 30 years. This is not a bubble that I revere or respect. This is the bubble I’m very much interested in bursting.

To be fair, Bernie doesn’t have a bubble but he does sometimes suffer from tunnel vision. He’s so focused on the macro issue of government corruption and the income inequality it’s caused, that he missed a lot of the micro (they’re not micro, but you get what I’m trying to say) issues like the concerns of black lives matter and the issues that are important to the families of mass murder victims. He understands that the corporate corruption of our politicians is the cause of the vast majority of our issues (military spending, climate change, guns, corporate tax evasion, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc), but he’s so focused on that, that he forgets that these issues need to be addressed not just from the top, but all way down to the actual victims. He gets that taking money out of politics will help to level out income inequality, which will greatly help the black community, but he can’t see the immediate issues that need addressing for that community. In his defense, he does seem to be listening and learning.

I’m much more comfortable with Bernie’s tunnel vision than I am with Hillary’s bubble. That’s just me.

Anyway, that was my very long way to say, don’t demonize Hillary for the Reagan comment. It wasn’t malicious and it wasn’t an attempt to propagandize. It was purely a product of the bubble. And she apologized, so let’s move on from attacking her for it.

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