Invoking the timing and rhetoric of President Reagan’s response to the AIDS crisis as a *positive* part of Nancy Reagan’s legacy? Seriously? Let’s break this down.
Here’s what the CBS Sunday Morning article goes on to say about Reagan’s first public statement on AIDS—again, this is in 1987; AIDS has been a full-fledged crisis for *over half the decade*:
And, sure, maybe it was indeed Nancy’s influence that got the president to finally say something, though of course Elizabeth Taylor had been applying plenty of pressure as well.
But also, the Surgeon General’s Report on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, published in the Jan.-Feb 1987 issue of Public Health Reports, forced Reagan’s hand somewhat:
And about that AmFAR speech...
Nancy Reagan was certainly correct to think that the usual speechwriters and related administration officials would not be inclined toward neutrality on the subject of AIDS:
In the end, then, what Reagan said was subtly—but significantly—different:
That wasn’t nothing—it wasn’t until November of 1987 that the American Medical Association issued a statement “that doctors had an ethical obligation to care for people with AIDS.” (
But it’s not exactly laudable, either. The Buzzfeed article I’ve been citing above is based on historical documents from the Reagan Presidential Library archives; I’ll let this statement close out this thread:
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