Re­mem­ber­ing Nancy rea­gan

The for­mi­da­ble first lady had a big in­flu­ence on her hus­band, Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PEOPLE - By Al­bert R. Hunt

THE list of in­flu­en­tial mod­ern first ladies al­ways in­cludes Eleanor Roo­sevelt and Hil­lary Clin­ton, but not usu­ally Nancy Rea­gan. That’s a mis­take.

Rea­gan, who died Sun­day at 94, had a big in­flu­ence on her hus­band, Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan, both in shap­ing White House op­er­a­tions in his first term and en­cour­ag­ing his break­through re­la­tions with the Soviet Union in his se­cond.

For more than a half cen­tury, the Rea­gans’ love story was so in­tense that at times it burned at the ex­pense of fam­ily, friends and pol­i­tics.

That could be a political li­a­bil­ity. Rea­gan’s lav­ish spend­ing habits and so­cial friends be­came political bag­gage. Her fix­a­tion on astrol­ogy af­ter the 1981 as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt on her hus­band was a dis­trac­tion for the White House.

Be­fore Ron­ald Rea­gan reached the White House, in­clud­ing dur­ing his two terms as gov­er­nor of Cal­i­for­nia, his wife was seen more as a stylish, pro­tec­tive spouse than a sub­stan­tive mover and shaker.

That changed af­ter Rea­gan be­came pres­i­dent in 1980. The Repub­li­can right wing was de­ter­mined to shape the new ad­min­is­tra­tion’s agenda by putting Ed­win Meese, a hard- line con­ser­va­tive, in charge of the White House staff.

Mrs Rea­gan, work­ing with her old con­fi­dant Michael Deaver, in­stead per­suaded her hus­band to tap James Baker as chief of staff even though Baker had been the cam­paign man­ager of her hus­band’s pri­mary ri­val ( and then run­ning mate), Ge­orge H. W. Bush. Meese in­stead be­came coun­sel­lor to the pres­i­dent.

The Baker- Deaver duo proved re­mark­ably ef­fec­tive at push­ing a con­ser­va­tive agenda in a po­lit­i­cally prag­matic way. Rea­gan won re- elec­tion four years later in a land­slide.

When Baker and Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Don­ald Re­gan switched jobs at the start of the se­cond term, the new White House chief of staff ran afoul of the first lady. That was Re­gan’s mis­take. Af­ter the Iran- con­tra scan­dal, in­volv­ing arms- sell­ing to Iran in ex­change for re­lease of Amer­i­can hostages, she helped en­gi­neer his ouster in 1987.

She also en­cour­aged her hus­band to seize an open­ing for a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship with the Soviet Union. She forged a close al­liance with Sec­re­tary of State Ge­orge Shultz – they had scores of tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions – at the ex­pense of the more con­ser­va­tive na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, Wil­liam Clark, a long­time Rea­gan ally. Clark, too, was dis­carded, and Rea­gan signed a sweep­ing arms con­trol pact with the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gor­bachev.

In 1991, about three years af­ter Rea­gan left of­fice, the Soviet Union col­lapsed.

It wasn’t that Pres­i­dent Rea­gan was easy to ma­nip­u­late. But th­ese were con­tro­ver­sial is­sues and there was con­flict­ing ad­vice. His wife, more than any­one, knew how to ap­peal to him and had his con­fi­dence.

Af­ter her White House years, she be­came a vo­cal ad­vo­cate for re­search on Alzheimer’s Dis­ease, which af­flicted her hus­band late in his life. She also sup­ported some gun con­trol mea­sures, re­flect­ing the con­tin­u­ing in­flu­ence on her think­ing of the 1981 as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt.

She re­mained a Repub­li­can, oc­ca­sion­ally ap­pear­ing at events at the Rea­gan Li­brary in Simi Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia.

But she told friends and ac­quain­tances in re­cent years she was dis­mayed at the rightwing tilt of her party, which she be­lieved didn’t re­flect the legacy of her “Ron­nie.” – Bloomberg

3 rea­gan at the ron­ald rea­gan Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary in simi Val­ley, cal­i­for­nia in March 2010. she died last sun­day at age 94. — reUTers

1921- 2016


2 rea­gan by the cas­ket of her hus­band in 2004. — reUTers


1 rea­gan hold­ing the rea­gans’ pet rex, a King charles spaniel, as she and ron­ald walk on the White house lawn in 1986. — AP


A bou­quet of flow­ers is placed out­side the ron­ald rea­gan Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary as peo­ple pay their re­spects to the for­mer first lady. — ePA

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