I was privileged to have worked for Nancy Reagan as a speechwriter during the 1984 presidential race. I think it’s fair to say that without her, there would have been no Ronald Reagan presidency. Theirs was a true partnership and deep intimacy. He drew strength from it. Some of the little love notes he sent her over the years are on display at the Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley. Anytime that he was not with her was a trial for him.
Today’s Washington Post, in a burst of bad taste, led its obituary with mentions of her “lavish” spending and use of an astrologer. Later editions softened this, so that the opening paragraph now calls her ”a former film actress whose crowning role was that of vigilant guardian of her husband’s interests and legacy,” which is fair, but inadequate. In an era when vulgarity has become the norm, it’s worth remembering someone who was smart, gracious, and dignified. Feminists scorned her adoring gaze at her husband — but it was genuine. She adored him and vice versa. During his long illness, she cared for him devotedly.