Sunday, July 6, 2014
Birthday Girl: Hellcat
A baby named Anne Frances Robbins was born on this day in 1921 in New York City, the daughter of a car dealer and an only middlingly successful stage actress. That means that today, Nancy Reagan is 93. So the old saying does have some truth in it, sometimes: only the good die young.
I'm afraid I can't be distanced or dispassionate about the onetime Nancy Davis, B-movie non-sensation, political wife, voracious consumer, dupe of astrologers, First Lady who presided over a tawdry era of greed and sheer tackiness unrivaled in a century. Wielding a kind of tinpot ersatz glamour (of a kind all too well captured in Aaron Shikler's official portrait, a studiously Sargentesque pastiche of stunning mediocrity even by the low standards of official portraitry), she and her Ronnie set our country off on countless wrong directions - imperial adventures in Central America, fiscal imprudence, the steady, slow dismantling of the always precarious social safety nets...
And of course, the plague. Nancy Reagan, with her coteries of hairdressers and decorators and couturiers, her intimate friendships with the likes of Merv Griffin and Jerry Zipkin... never said a word about AIDS. For years. Years of wasted time, unraised funds, and hundreds, thousands of deaths. Supposedly she eventually pushed her recalcitrant husband and his reactionary regime (at a time when, as Surgeon General C. Everett Koop later reported, the president's advisers thought that patients "were only getting what they justly deserve"), but that's Simply. Not. Enough.
So no. No kind words for the old lady sitting in her California mansion. When it comes to her and her evil dupe of a husband, I just say no.