Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Then along Came Nancy ; Ronald, Nancy Reagans Marriage Is One for the History Books

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Then along Came Nancy ; Ronald, Nancy Reagans Marriage Is One for the History Books

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON They were just four words, but they denoted something that led to a wonderful swerve in world history. They were words Ronald Reagan repeatedly used when referring to something that happened long before he spoke his most famous four words: Tear down this wall. The other four words described the most important event in his eventful life, an event without which Reagan probably would never have been in a position to bring down the Berlin Wall:

Then along came Nancy. If she had not come along, he would not have come to the place he now occupies in history and in the hearts of his countrymen.

When filling out forms that ask if one is married, many people perfunctorily check that box. The Reagans should have put not a check mark but an exclamation point: They were the most married couple imaginable.

Ronald was a reproach to every husband who does not write love notes to his wife as they sit together in evening repose. It was a remarkable woman who could elicit such private devotion from a public man with presidential preoccupations.

Reagans strength was reflected in his preternatural cheerfulness, which flowed from his marriage. Politics requires the patience, endurance and serenity that a happy marriage can confer.

In a democracy, politics is a team sport. Parties are teams; congressional caucuses are teams; campaigns are teams.

But often the most important team is the smallest, a harmonious marriage. The presidency has had three especially history-shaping partnerships: Abigail and John Adams, Dolley and James Madison, Nancy and Ronald Reagan.

Much, but not too much, has been made of Nancys protectiveness, her steely devotion to her husbands interests. With her in mind, one occasionally wonders whether the reason most societies have refused to allow women in combat is not that women are too frail for combat but that they are too fierce for it: They would not obey the rules.

Ronald Reagan was a friendly man who used friendliness as a buffer, keeping the world at a distance from his sphere of privacy. He had one true friend, and he married her. She understood his amiable propensity for thinking the best of everybody, a mistake she did not make. …

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