Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Nancy Reagan, 1921-2016, RIP

It was with great sadness that I learned of former First Lady Nancy Reagan's passing on March 6. She was 94.
This is not about me, dear reader, but my actual remembrances of Mrs. Reagan are, admittedly, sporadic. I was a teenager in the 1980s. I began the decade aged 10 and, by the time the calendar had flipped to 1990, I was 21. I was not a political adolescent, although I did love Cold War era sci-fi novels, Ben Bova's Voyagers and Killer Station by Martin Caidin (wherein a character named "Rush" appeared half-a-decade before Mr. Limbaugh's show) being chief among them. I was aware that we had a strong President in office who was telling the Russkies were they could get off.
Nancy Reagan was always elegant. She knew how to be as she had been an actress, but I have no doubt that she would have been effortless at charm, poise and style anyway. She was a naturally gregarious person.

Photo source: Getty Images

The Reagans were a natural couple, the best America could offer, more Norman Rockwell than any presidential couple in office during Rockwell's life. Mrs. Reagan might have stretched things too far when she started consulting an astrologist in order to plan her hubby's schedule in the wake of his assassination attempt. But we all have our quirks.
Her "Just Say No" campaign could not be topped by any other First Lady. We could use a similar program today. People cynically laugh at the "ignorance" of "Just Say No," but research confirms a substantial drop in illicit substance abuse throughout the campaign's existence. Since then, we have had "I Did Not Inhale" and a former "Choom Gang" leader in office. How far we've dropped.
Nancy Reagan showed loyalty and respect to many White House staff members. A far cry from Madame Hilary sacking Travel Office staff on day one of her term as First Lady. When President Reagan's term in office ended on January 20, 1989, Nancy's approval ratings as first lady stood at 56 percent.
To give President Obama credit, he ordered the flag to be flown at half-staff until dusk on the day of Mrs. Reagan's burial. Thank you, Barry.
Is Nancy Reagan's passing the final nail in the coffin of a confident time for America, when its national safety was assured? No. Whether it's the Constitutional conservatism of Ted Cruz that I prefer or the populist nationalism of Donald Trump that I can live with, the strength that America had under the Reagans will return and give us a country that would make them—and us—proud.

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