Main | Saturday, February 05, 2011

The True Legacy Of Ronald Reagan

Today Alex Pareene notes at Salon that Ronald Reagan was far more concerned about the potential of aliens attacking from outer space than he was about the AIDS pandemic, which he completely ignored. Reagan frequently spoke on the threat from little green men, an issue he brought up at the United Nations and one that he even discussed with Russian premier Mikhail Gorbachev.
If Ronald Reagan was a genuine UFO nutter or simply in thrall to a simplistic sci-fi plot makes no difference to me. But the fact remains that he spent a lot of time talking about spacemen. Spacemen killed, according to my estimates, no Americans, at all, during Reagan's presidency. Reagan never mentioned AIDS until he was directly questioned about it in his second term, and he never gave a public statement on the epidemic until 1987, when 20,000-30,000 people had already died from it. When it came up in press briefings, it was, at first, a subject of humorous cajoling. Later, the president was advised not to say that children couldn't catch AIDS from casual contact. Members of the Reagan inner circle attacked Surgeon General C. Everett Koop for encouraging sex education and condom use. The Centers for Disease Control was underfunded and there was never a comprehensive plan for dealing with the epidemic.
How many of the people in the below clip might be alive today, had Ronald Reagan and his administration acted decisively in the early years of AIDS?

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