I felt pretty clear about my presidential vote until last Friday. I've been a Hillary Clinton supporter for a long time now, and she was my choice. Then she made that inane comment about Nancy Reagan fighting a quiet fight for AIDS, and I got really upset. I'm no learned scholar in this area, but I've read enough and talked to enough people over the years to know that equating the Reagans in any way with helping to fight the AIDS crisis is bad news and just plain wrong. I'm not going to rehash all the reasons why, as far more articulate people have done so.
People tell me not to be surprised. That Hillary is just out for herself, and she'll say and do anything to be President. I resisted that oversimplification of what I believe to be a very complex person in the middle of a complicated and ugly political season. And then I read her apology posted on Medium. Lots of people are citing the apology as a moment of humility and respect and blah, blah, blah. While it's true there's an apology in there, the piece is more about touting her own record on HIV and AIDS and proclaiming what she'll do in the future.
But where's the explanation about how the comment happened in the first place? I read one person's comment that said that Hillary Clinton was tired and misspoke. No. Unacceptable. Another person cited some published source that said that Nancy Reagan really pushed for a response to the AIDS crisis from inside the White House, that her sphere of influence was greater once her husband had at least acknowledged the existence of the disease. Possible, but I don't know the source. If that's what prompted Secretary Clinton's comments about Nancy Reagan, why no mention of it in her apology?
So how did this happen? Why did it happen? Was Secretary Clinton saying this about Nancy Reagan to try and get some swing voters who have sentimental feelings about the Reagans and the "city on the hill"? Great imagery from Ron, but those times are past. Is Hillary Clinton suffering from amnesia? If so, I'm not sure she should be running for President. And after all the work she claims to have done in the name of the LGBTQ community, can she really not have known that a choice to mythologize Nancy Reagan around this issue would cause an uproar?
I understand we want to say nice things about dead people. I have nothing against saying nice things about the Reagans. I played Ronald Reagan in a mock election in the 7th grade. We won. I've recovered. It's fine. I wish neither of them ill will in the afterlife. But why are we making things up? There were plenty of other nice things that Secretary Clinton could have said about Nancy Reagan that day, yet she chose to say this. Even if it came up on a teleprompter or on notes that she was handed or out of the mouth of someone coaching her before the appearance, she is smart enough and experienced enough to have made a different choice.
Or is she?
That's the question I'm left with, and that's why I'm not so sure about my vote anymore. Sorry Liberal Friends, I feel no Bern whatsoever, nada, zilch, largely because I don't think anything he's proposed will have an iota of traction in the divided nation we live in. Sorry to be pessimistic, but that's the reality. Secretary Clinton has represented the best choice in my mind to step into a terrible situation of a divided Congress and try to do more damage control. That's what she did as Secretary of State, and I think she can do that as President. I love when my Republican friends like to accuse Secretary Clinton of doing nothing as Secretary of State. "What did she accomplish? Name one thing." Uh, she put on an industrial strength diplomatic HazMat Suit and waded her way around the world through the toxicity left behind by eight years of foreign policy debacle and she survived. Unfortunately, she chose to do it with a private email server, so no one remembers the diplomatic HazMat Suit. And yes, as a senator, she voted for the Iraq War. So did a lot of other people. And there were a lot of bystanders waving their American flags when they did it, so I'm tired of hearing that too.
I've tried to be forgiving about the email server and the 225K speeches and the list goes on, but for some reason, Friday really did me in. I know I'm not the only one. It was all over social media, and I tried to read the various comments of people whose opinions I respect from both sides, and then I finally just deleted Facebook from my phone. It's too depressing.
So what do I want from Secretary Clinton? I want what The New York Times Editorial Board asked for today: transparency. I don't want apologies or a list of accomplishments or a list of what's going to happen if I vote for her. I want to hear why she made these choices. Why and how. And not some canned response that was prepped for her. I'd like her to sit down one-on-one with someone and tell the truth. Then I can make a decision about what to do with my vote.
We talk about teacher transparency and vulnerability and how powerful those attributes can be in teachers when we're trying to educate people. Well, maybe they can be Presidential as well.