Tag Archives: Nancy Reagan

Stay away, Mr. President

Donald J. Trump will get criticized if he doesn’t attend former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral.

He’ll get criticized if he shows up in Houston this weekend.

For what it’s worth — and it’s not much, I’ll concede — I want to counsel the president to stay away.

Look at it this way: Mrs. Bush made no bones about her dislike and disgust at Trump. She didn’t like the way he treated women. She damn sure didn’t like the way he treated her two sons — Jeb, who ran against Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary, and George W., who drew Trump’s ire over the Iraq War.

Trump has said the correct things about Mrs. Bush. I watched him read his statement and was struck yet again by the feeling in my gut that he didn’t really feel it.

First lady Melania Trump is going to attend, which is customary for first ladies; they usually attend funerals for their predecessors. Michelle Obama attended the funeral for Nancy Reagan, for example.

Donald Trump is facing a couple of difficult choices here. He need not accompany his wife to the funeral of a woman who couldn’t stand him.

He’s already spoken of Barbara Bush’s toughness. There you have it.

Stay away, Mr. President. Let the first lady represent the government.

***

Here is what I wrote about whether Barack Obama should have attended Mrs. Reagan’s funeral.

Should POTUS attend ex-FLOTUS’s funeral?

President ought to take a look at the flood damage

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I am one of those who believes Barack Obama should take day away from his vacation to do something quite presidential.

He ought to take a jet ride south from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., to tour the flood damage of Louisiana. He ought to spend just a bit of time talking to local residents, local officials, state officials and his Homeland Security staff to get an up-close look at Mother Nature’s fury.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he’d rather have the president wait before going there.

Look, this isn’t written into the president’s job description. It’s understood, though, that when Americans are hurting their head of state sometimes gets called upon to offer personal words of comfort, love and support.

A historic flood, to my mind, counts as one of those times.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post makes an interesting argument that the president famously doesn’t always do things just because they look right.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/18/heres-why-president-obama-isnt-stopping-his-vacation-to-visit-the-louisiana-flooding/

I get that, too.

However, this president did join the amen chorus of critics in 2005 when President Bush staged that noted flyover during in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which wiped out much of New Orleans. The critics all said Bush needed to set foot on the ground and the flyover became something of a symbol of alleged presidential nonchalance about the suffering that befell one of America’s great cities.

Cillizza writes: “Presidents don’t get vacations — they just get a change of scenery,” Nancy Reagan famously told critics of her husband’s regular trips to the family’s ranch. Work, especially in this digital age, follows you around.

I get that, too.

Presidents, though, assume the role of “comforter in chief.” Obama has performed that role masterfully many times during his two terms in office. Whether he’s embraced family members of those slain in spasms of violence or gone to natural disaster sites — such as when he went to the Jersey Shore after Super Storm Sandy devastated that region — he’s been there.

Some folks in Louisiana need comforting right now.

Clinton takes back … a compliment

HIV-AIDS

Here’s how it usually goes when a politician retracts a statement.

The pol usually says something negative about someone else, only to be shown that the comment was unfounded. The politician then might take at least some of it back, declaring a lack of complete understanding.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, though, did something quite different this week.

She attended the funeral of former first lady Nancy Reagan and then offered high praise for the work Mrs. Reagan and her husband, President Ronald Reagan, did to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.

Well, to borrow an exclamation: Oops!

Turns out the Reagans didn’t do what Clinton said they did. They were not champions for HIV/AIDS research.

AIDS activists and leaders of the LGBT community were quick to call Clinton out on her misstatement.

President Reagan didn’t even mention AIDS — which was initially diagnosed in 1981, the first year of his presidency — until 1987. As for Mrs. Reagan, she was silent on the issue as well.

Yes, the backlash was intense in the wake of Clinton’s comments.

As the New York Times reported: “While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, I misspoke about their record on HIV and AIDS,” she said in a statement about two hours after her interview had been shown on MSNBC. “For that, I’m sorry.”

I am pretty sure that Clinton’s staff did not serve her well in prepping her for the TV interview in which she “misspoke.”

Indeed, if the leading Democratic presidential candidate would be of a mind to praise any Republican for their work on HIV/AIDS research, it ought to go President George W. Bush, on whose watch the PEPFAR program was initiated.

While touring Southeast Asia with other journalists in 2004 on a mission to learn about the impact of AIDS in that part of the world, we were told that because of PEPFAR — the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief — the United States was spending more on AIDS research than the rest of the world combined.

The Reagans weren’t in the game. Yes, the late former first lady has earned high praise for her Alzheimer’s awareness efforts. Not so with HIV/AIDS.

Now we’ll get to see how nimble Hillary Clinton can be in the face of some stinging rebukes over what one leading gay activist called her “idiotic, false – and heartbreaking” tribute.

Should POTUS attend ex-FLOTUS’s funeral?

obama

I’m beginning to hear some faint rumbles out there in Social Media Land about President Obama’s decision to forgo attending the funeral of Nancy Reagan.

Someone please tell me this is just “normal” cyberworld chatter. That it’s par for the Internet course. That the twitter-verse is full of too many people with too much time on their hands.

The former first lady died the other day at age 94. President Obama joined other dignitaries around the world in expressing their sympathy to Mrs. Reagan’s family. He said some nice things that paid tribute to her service to the country.

He ordered flags lowered to half-staff at the White House and other federal government buildings.

That should be sufficient, yes?

Ohhhh, no.

Some have said the president should attend the funeral. I have heard reports of some critics poking sticks at Obama because he’s going to a SXSW event in Texas that had been planned for weeks.

The president is sending his wife to Mrs. Reagan’s funeral. Indeed, it’s customary for sitting first ladies to pay their respects at funerals of their predecessors.

Some former presidents might attend the service at the Reagan Library later this week. Then again, perhaps it’ll just be their wives. We’ve got several first ladies still among us: Rosalyn Carter, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush all might attend the funeral.

Then again, Hillary Clinton also has a pretty full plate these days as she runs for president of the United States.

I’m sure the right-wing mainstream media would pounce on her absence if she spends that day campaigning for the office that Mrs. Reagan’s husband once occupied.

This is such a nasty, contentious time.

 

Nancy Reagan’s lasting legacy: Alzheimer’s awareness

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Nancy Reagan will be remembered for many noble and good things.

The former first lady — who died this past weekend at age 94 — was a champion for her husband, the 40th president of the United States. She became arguably his closest advisor and by many accounts was his best friend. She sought to protect his image and his legacy and most historians today she succeeded famously at protecting both of those things.

She also was an advocate for Alzheimer’s research and that’s what I want to focus on here.

You see, many of us have intimate knowledge of that disease.

On Nov. 5, 1994, President Reagan penned that astonishingly poignant farewell letter to the nation as he disclosed his diagnosis. He and his bride then said their “long goodbye” to each other. Nearly a decade later, President Reagan would succumb to the complications of that disease.

Read the president’s letter here.

I’ve told you at times of my own experience with the disease, having watched my mother wither away and die 32 years ago from its effects at the too-tender age of 61. Take my word for it: It ain’t pretty.

Other family members of well-known Americans have taken up the cause for Alzheimer’s research. I think most often of Maria Shriver, whose father — Sargent Shriver — was rendered helpless by the affliction before he died. Shriver has vowed to carry the fight forward.

Nancy Reagan sought to raise research funds. She lobbied Congress to do more for the families who are the actual sufferers of this malady. They are the victims, who watch their loved ones lose their cognitive skill, their memory, their ability to do simple things, such as bathe and eat.

All those things happened to her beloved husband and she fought as hard as she could until the day he died and later — until her own health deteriorated.

The world she leaves behind needs more powerful advocates who will take up the cudgel for other family members who must endure the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s disease.

Thank you, Mrs. Reagan, for the waging this noble effort.

We haven’t finished the fight just yet, but we’re a lot closer to declaring victory.

 

Why the qualified tribute to Mrs. Reagan?

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The nation has heard from many leading political figures commenting on the death of former first lady Nancy Reagan.

They’ve all been lovely and heartfelt.

Still, consider this statement from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic candidate for president:

“No matter your party or political ideology, this is a sad day for America. Nancy Reagan was an exemplary first lady. A devoted partner, she was her husband’s most trusted advisor and, as such, served our country well. Even after her time in the White House, she was an outspoken advocate for stem-cell research to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Nancy Reagan had a good heart, and she will be dearly missed.”

Is it just me or did Sen. Sanders offer something of a qualifier with that first clause: “No matter your party or political affiliation …”?

I venture to guess that most adult Americans who are even remotely aware of the current presidential campaign know that Sanders leans sharply to the left and that the late President and Mrs. Reagan leaned sharply in the other direction.

I don’t mean to parse and nitpick Sen. Sanders’ statement to death, but it seems to me he could have just started with, “This is a sad day for America” and gone on from there. The rest of the statement came straight from his heart.

One sees this kind of qualification added to tributes to those who have passed on. Lefties do it when righties depart this world and righties do it as well to the lefties who leave us.

Hey, maybe I’ve got too much time on my hands to worry about such things.

Any thoughts here? Am I off base?