AIDS/HIV | News | Ronald Reagan

Reagan's Failure to Act


As Ronald Reagan's legacy is discussed around his 100th birthday, it's important to remember his devastating failure to act on AIDS, which surely cost many lives.

A revealing remembrance of that failure, AFTER THE JUMP...

Via Scott Wooledge at DailyKos, who has a more thorough look at those years.

Veteran journalist Hank Plante also recalls those years.

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    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Feb 7, 2011 12:42:46 PM

  2. Ron is nice and toasty in his own little corner of hell.

    Posted by: bobbob | Feb 7, 2011 12:50:16 PM

  3. Practice what you preach. Or are you just as narrow minded and intolerant as the AFA?

    Posted by: Diogenes | Feb 7, 2011 1:01:13 PM

  4. I'm convinced the mythology and deification of Reagan won't stand the test of time. He was not a good president, and the policies of his administration not only did great damage to this country, but the expansion of them among the Bush regimes and even the two corporate-friendly Democratic administrations to succeed him have so greatly eroded this country as to create a rot that could make this temple we call America come crumbling down.

    Really, only one of two things can happen to this country: we can wake up and have ourselves a miniature revolution, rejecting totally the economic policies of the past 30 years, or America's station as a significant world power is over. Already, we're being out exported by a country less than a third of our size -- Germany -- while China exports three times as much as we do in terms of total value. We're rapidly losing our station as an economic or intellectual power house (contrary to what Obama suggested at the State of the Union, our patent trend-lines are going in a dangerous direction) and large swaths of our country's infrastructure and cities are decaying, to put it kindly.

    If we don't act soon, I'm not sure we'll be able to restore the greatness of this country -- the ideals of the American Dream -- within the periods of most of our lifetimes. The hole will be too deep, and our resources stretched far too thin. We're at the precipice, and we cannot regain solid footing and build anew without taking the economic policies of Reagan and the mythology of his days in power and making it all dead and buried.

    Posted by: Ryan | Feb 7, 2011 1:10:32 PM

  5. If it had been 20,000 young, straight, white people who had died of a new disease discovered only on his watch, it's hard to imagine Reagan wouldn't have mentioned something in public, or that the government wouldn't have led an effort to combat the disease sooner.

    Posted by: GregV | Feb 7, 2011 1:15:23 PM

  6. According to his biographer, it's a myth that Rock Hudson and the Reagans were "close friends." BUT two years after hosting him at a White House state dinner, and nine months after he died from AIDS, the Reagans attended a nationally televised rededication of the cleaned-up Statue of Liberty in July 1986. A part of the evening’s “entertainment” was Repug comedian Bob Hope, who "joked":

    “I just heard that the Statue of Liberty has AIDS but she doesn’t know if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or from the Staten Island Ferry.” “As the television camera panned the audience, special guests French President & Mdm. Mitterand looked appalled. The Reagans were laughing." - Michael Bronski.

    Forget building more statues to him, naming more streets, more buildings, more airports after, and putting his face on a coin or a mountain. THE most appropriate way to remember him is a REnaming: "THE RONALD REAGAN MEMORIAL AIDS QUILT."

    Posted by: | Feb 7, 2011 1:15:29 PM

  7. There is irony and some justice in the fact that he died on the anniversary of the CDC announcing AIDS.

    Posted by: just sayin' | Feb 7, 2011 1:17:54 PM

  8. Does the same ol' partisan hack BS ever get old on this site? 49 states voted Reagan back into office in 1984. He worked his entire presidency under a Democratically controlled Congress which also perpetuated stereotypes and failed to act.

    Using examples of the intolerance of the entire nation to slam one man you didn't like is partisan slime at it's worse. Yes, the 80s sucked for gays, but there were millions more than Reagan who contributed to that, including leftists and Democrats.

    Grow up.

    Posted by: Tim | Feb 7, 2011 1:21:01 PM

  9. With the hysteria over the recent pandemics that never appeared --- it is very clear that only bigotry allowed HIV to go unaddressed or even mentioned by President Reagan until 20,000 Americans were dead and buried.

    This allowed the illness to spread across the country and internationally = we will never know what early prevention efforts could have achieved - because President Reagan CHOSE to ignore to coming pandemic for POLITICAL reasons.

    Reagan was an actor paid to represent for the elite - and not for all of America.

    A very evil man.

    Posted by: willie t boned | Feb 7, 2011 1:34:54 PM

  10. Sadly, I don't think we'll ever really wake up from the Reagan nightmare.

    Posted by: Dave | Feb 7, 2011 1:36:41 PM

  11. @Tim--No, you grow up. If Andy and others were spreading lies and propaganda to foment hatred (ala Palin, Coulter, Limbaugh, Beck, and many Republican Senators and Representatives) then you would have a point. But all these things about Reagan are true.

    Posted by: StillmarriedinCA | Feb 7, 2011 1:43:17 PM

  12. How can I put this politely? How about: suck a razorblade, Tim?

    At least your death would be much quicker than Reagan's passive genocide victims.

    Posted by: | Feb 7, 2011 1:54:20 PM

  13. goprune (goproud) must be so happy that the repukeplicans idol ignored the devastating AIDS epidemic back in the 80's. We will never wake up from this nightmare!! goprune stick your head in the sand on this one along with your dead idol!!

    Posted by: Roseann | Feb 7, 2011 2:07:25 PM

  14. This is the man responsible for all the homeless -- 85% of which are mentally ill. He is the one who SHUT down government mental hospitals, dumped these people on the streets, where their only shelter is Jail! Not the way to treat the mentally ill, this is the standard we have to use to judge our own society. Do NOT believe all the hype about him, he was a terrible person and a worse president.

    Posted by: lewlew | Feb 7, 2011 2:09:21 PM

  15. Some 21,000 people died before Reagan broke his silence. What a incredible SOB

    Posted by: PriceCut | Feb 7, 2011 2:46:50 PM

  16. The Reagans were part of the Hollywood crowd and were always surrounded by many gays, both in their social circle and in their California administration.

    Reagan could have and should have done more; however, hindsight is a wonderful thing. The idea that this was some right-wing conspiracy and conservatives sat around rubbing their hands in glee at AIDS death is preposterous and sickening.

    There's a reason why public poll after public poll shows Reagan as one of our best and most beloved Presidents.

    Posted by: LincolnLounger | Feb 7, 2011 3:44:06 PM

  17. I think the deification/myth building of reagan is an excellent study

    7 yrs after his death, Modern era, modern record keeping devices, people still alive who saw him

    supposed gospels = 70-90 yrs after the supposed death of supposed jesus, no modern equipment, nobody still alive who would have seen any of it, they thought the world flat


    a very interesting study indeed on myth building

    Posted by: | Feb 7, 2011 3:47:34 PM

  18. oh and just to set some of the reagan myths straight

    - turned USA creditor nation into a debtor nation

    - raised taxes 6 times in 8 yrs

    - did not single handedly end the cold war.....a poll in the last year of his presidency had 43-47% of america saying gorbechav had more to do with the end of the cold war with only 14% thinking reagan had anything to do with it

    Posted by: | Feb 7, 2011 3:50:29 PM

  19. "If it had been 20,000 young, straight, white people who had died of a new disease discovered only on his watch"

    20,000? There would have been a response if only 20 had died.

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 7, 2011 3:56:29 PM

  20. I don't see why Reagan should have done anything. He's not responsible for an illness that is due largely to sexual promiscuity.

    In any case, most of the money that's been given to AIDS research has been wasted. All we really got out of it was a huge AIDS industry that trades on phony victimhood status to milk more and more money from the taxpayer.

    The best way to avoid sexually transmitted illnesses is to moderate your behavior. Don't be promiscuous - can't be any simpler than that.

    Posted by: brian | Feb 7, 2011 4:01:05 PM

  21. Interesting deflection of responsibility and victim blaming being shown by some on here.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 7, 2011 4:08:19 PM

  22. As BRIAN above me said, if you want to avoid sexually transmitted illnesses, don't have dicks fill your bum up with loads... This implies that everyone who contracts hiv via sex doesn't want to avoid it, and are at least unconcerned about getting it; and at most they want to get it. It's entirely their fault that hiv exists for them to get and that they got it because they could have not had sex at all, or could have used protection. Couldn't be simpler than that. So why is it that so many gay men continue to seroconvert if it couldn't be simpler than that...I dunno, but who cares because it's not my problem and it's all their fault, so it doesn't need to be addressed by the government because it's not an epidemic or anything, and it's just the gays, who aren't real people, anyway. Reagan was a horrendous president, and polling of the american people reveals a deeply ignorant and stupid populace of angry fat slobs destroying american prosperity.

    Posted by: TANK | Feb 7, 2011 4:12:57 PM

  23. Tim,
    I'll ignore your ignorant homophobia and focus on the facts: Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States, our "leader." He said and did NOTHING about AIDS for several years and thousands of people died. Whatever you perceived as his "obstacles" don't matter. Not only did he not lead on this crisis, he did nothing.
    Your peeps like to shout about responsibility a take some. Partisanship and popularity have NOTHING to do with this.

    Segue to your friend Brian...
    I am going to guess you are quite young and/or incredibly ignorant. The etiology and of HIV/AIDS was not immediately your hateful judgements about "promiscuous" people are very misplaced. You might want to read "And The Band Played On" by Randy Shilts (one of the more popular accounts of this pandemic).

    Best definition of promiscuity: someone who is getting laid more than you are.

    One can be infected in one encounter. It is well documented that large numbers of gay men have had a high number of sexual contacts but practiced only safer sexual behaviors and never's about behavior!

    How dare you two come onto a site like this and spread your venom. Have you no shame?

    Posted by: Rocco | Feb 7, 2011 6:02:36 PM

  24. Like Tim's observations. Most folks here revere Obama, it will be held up for posterity that he was the "pro gay" president, who spoke to gay crowds and curried favor with gay voters, and DID NOTHING. Reagan is unfairly criticized because he was a conservative republican, Obama, a radical, gets nothing but unfair praise. I want to know, specifically, just what reagan could have said that would have made the difference in one HIV case? There was no cure, and traditionally left leaning people rebel against authority. I imagine we would have seen people screaming about Reagan trying to shut gay sex down if he had uttered a syllable. it is a no win situation. Conservatives are reviles before, during and after office. Relentlessly. Progressives are lauded no matter how slimy or irresponsible or dangerous to our country. Reagan was a great president, and Palin will be.

    Posted by: ted | Feb 7, 2011 7:44:27 PM

  25. Just researched the timeline on AIDS. Reagan mentioned fighting AIDS in a speech to congress on February 6,1986.

    "We will continue, as a high priority, the fight against Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). An unprecedented research effort is underway to deal with this major epidemic public health threat. The number of AIDS cases is expected to increase. While there are hopes for drugs and vaccines against AIDS, none is immediately at hand. Consequently, efforts should focus on prevention, to inform and to lower risks of further transmission of the AIDS virus. To this end, I am asking the Surgeon General to prepare a report to the American people on AIDS."

    Posted by: ted | Feb 7, 2011 7:51:22 PM

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