Nancy Reagan: The Portrait of a First Lady

Conservative Review

By: Craig Shirley | March 07, 2016

During the 1980 campaign, Washington Star columnist Judy Bacharach tore into Nancy Reagan for, among other things, handing out chocolates to the traveling press.

The next day Nancy appeared again on the plane, handing out chocolates, only this time with a sign around her neck with read, “Take One! Or Else!” That was Nancy Reagan. A sharp sense of humor and a sharper sense of irony.

She was always a fighter, especially where her husband was concerned. She usually concerned herself to the East Wing and her various charitable works but sometimes, when she felt someone wasn’t doing their best for Ronnie, she spoke up.

For example in 1980, Nancy had liked campaign manager John Sears, who’d run Reagan’s near miss campaign in 1976. Four years later, however, she believed Sears had changed and was no longer an asset to her husband’s faltering efforts. She played a discrete but influential role in Sears’s ouster.

Seven years later, she again exerted her rare but powerful authority by helping to have fired Don Reagan, her husband’s Chief of Staff, who again was hurting and not helping her husband.

But Nancy’s greatest role was out of the spotlight, away from the crowds, in the tender care and love she gave to Reagan as he slipped into the long goodnight of Alzheimer’s. While he took it in stride, Nancy Reagan took it upon herself.

She also concerned herself with his legacy and much of what we understand and celebrate about Ronald Reagan is because of Nancy Reagan. From the Library to the presidential debates to books, authors, lectures, courses and his 100th birthday, each bears the light but firm touch of Nancy Reagan.

Nancy Reagan is already a part of history, not only for what she did, but for who she was and for who she helped. She understood the role of a supportive spouse and helpful First Lady was to ensure the President was good and healthy. If the President is strong and healthy, then the nation is likewise.

Nancy Reagan will be known for what she did and who she was, but she will also be known for what she wasn’t and what she did not do. She did not attend Cabinet meetings, she did not involve herself in national policy but she was very good at being Mrs. Ronald Reagan. In this role and the responsibilities that came with it, she was truly an Academy Award winning star.

Nancy Davis Reagan, RIP.