Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 9, 2004 / 20 Sivan, 5764

Valentines from a president

By Suzanne Fields

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | First ladies are often treated unkindly by the cultural attitudes of their times. The public feels perfectly free to judge the relationship of a president and his wife through a political lens, darkly, preferring the whiz of slings and arrows to the purr of love-dusted arrows dispatched from Cupid's quiver.


Nancy Reagan has been treated more harshly than some. In a 1968 profile in the Saturday Evening Post, inked in venom, Joan Didion described her as having "the smile of a good wife, a good mother, a good hostess, the smile of someone who grew up in comfort and went to Smith College and has . a husband who is the definition of Nice Guy not to mention governor of California, the smile of a woman who seems to be playing out some middle-class American woman's daydream, circa 1948."


This was harsh for its time, meant to be a clever putdown, but how many women (including Didion) would see it that way today as the nation mourns with Nancy Reagan the death of a beloved husband. Who (apart from the neurotic haters) has not been touched by the fortitude and grace that she has demonstrated in the care taken of her "Ronnie" through the painful, debilitating indignities of a cruel and remorseless disease?


Four years ago we were actually treated to an inside look at a great romance, when Nancy published "I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan." The president wrote these letters on the backs of telegrams, on scraps of paper, on letterheads from hotels across the country and finally on elegant White House bond, sometimes writing when they were in the same room together.


If they lack the poetry of Robert Browning or John Donne, whose love poems to their wives are the stuff of literary anthologies, they nevertheless testify to an astonishing affection that even amidst the stresses of public life connected the first couple with ardor and admiration.

Donate to JWR


Mrs. Reagan kept the letters in a shopping bag, reading them for emotional sustenance after the disease deprived her husband of an ability to express his feelings. "His letters were keepsakes in the past and have become my guardians of memory today," she writes. "They recall happy times, and, above all, they preserve the voice of the Ronnie I love." She decided to publish them when she realized that they might be filed away at the Ronald Reagan library, available only to scholars and researchers.


Ronald Reagan was not a poet, but his handwritten words from the heart are particularly fascinating to read when cynicism mocks the meaning of marriage, when faxes take shortcuts to sentiment and e-mail abuses the language of love. In a typical letter, marking their 31st wedding anniversary and written on Air Force One letterhead, the president writes that their marriage remains "an adolescent's dream of what marriage should be like."


As a married couple, Nancy and Ronald Reagan were a throwback to an idyll of the marriage of the '40s so easily ridiculed in modern media. She was not "the power" behind the big man, but a shrewd wife determined to keep a prominent role in the background. She was pretty and poised, sharp and smart, and in her devotion to her husband she wanted never to upstage him.


The adoring look captured in so many photographs, as she stood or sat at his side, was ridiculed by the sophisticated elites but the years have revealed it to be authentic. There was clearly a current of electricity between man and woman, animating passion and respect. Theirs was the succor of soul mates.


The word "wife," the president wrote, "means a companion without whom I'm never quite complete or happy. . It means someone who can make me lonely just by leaving the room." How many wives, even partisan punditresses, wouldn't like to get a letter like these:


"I love you so much I don't even mind that life made me wait so long to find you. The waiting only made the finding sweeter." (1955)


"I live in a permanent Christmas because G-d gave me you." (1970)


"I more than love you, I'm not whole without you. You are life itself to me." (1983)


Until Ronald Reagan began his journey with Alzheimer's to the farther reaches of joyless consciousness, he described himself as "the most married man in the world" and his wife as the "light of my life." She's alone now with her memories, but in our own mourning we take cheer with her in these intimate moments of the heart.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.



Comment on JWR contributor Suzanne Fields' column by clicking here.

Suzanne Fields Archives

© 2004, TMS