The "History By Hillary" Hashtag Sweeps Across Twitter, And It Started For A Very Good Reason
On Friday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had a pretty bad day. Speaking with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell from the funeral of former First Lady Nancy Reagan in Simi Valley, California, Clinton praised her and former president Ronald Reagan for their roles in helping to "[start] a national conversation about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s," a statement which is about as prime an example of blatant historical revisionism as it gets. And now, on Saturday, she's continuing to take heat on social media — the #HistoryByHillary hashtag has swept across Twitter, dragging her down on a number of different issues, even above and beyond Friday's offending flap.
Clinton ended up apologizing for her praise of the Reagan legacy on HIV/AIDS before Friday was over, and quite frankly, that was her only feasible option — it wouldn't be a stretch to say that this was the biggest, most overt blunder of her 2016 candidacy so far. Contrary to her claim that the Reagans, and Nancy in particular, had performed "low key" and "effective advocacy" on the topic, the Reagan administration's silence on HIV/AIDS throughout the 1980s ranks as one of the grossest examples of political negligence in recent memory, as thousands upon thousands were dying.
Silence when they weren't mocking it, that is — Reagan's press secretary, Larry Speakes, once taunted a reporter who asked him about AIDS, laughing about the disease, and saying "I don't have it, do you?" In short, it was a majorly awful characterization, and it set off a slew of social media criticism.
One of the other main criticisms that's been prominent on the #HistoryByHillary hashtag, and it's predictable given the political fight she's mired in with Bernie Sanders, has been focused on a recent criticism she lobbed at the Vermont senator. In fact, beyond just a criticism, a genuine slight — according to Amy Chozick of The New York Times on Friday, Clinton let this little barb slip: "I don't know where he was when I was trying to get health care in '93 and '94."
The only problem? Back in 1993 and 1994, Sanders and Clinton were in decidedly more agreement than they are now, and he wasn't exactly shy about standing behind her. Literally, in fact!
Needless to say, it's nowhere near the kind of publicity Clinton's campaign was looking for, much less on a weekend full of fraught, chaotic developments on the Republican side. And while there's never really a let up in the myriad criticisms and/or attacks that she faces on social media — the political climate on the Democratic side is deeply fractured right now, even though it pales in comparison to the furor that's happening within the GOP — it's all the worse that some of this stuff was so self-inflicted.
For what it's worth, Clinton went even further than her simple initial apology on Thursday, expounding on what she got wrong in a Medium post published on Saturday evening. But it does make for a valuable tip for any progressive politicians going forward: if you're reaching for something nice to say about the Reagans, do yourself and everyone else a favor, and keep the words HIV and AIDS out of your mouth.