Nancy Reagan Speaks Out About Obamas, the Bushes, and Her Husband

With her 88th birthday approaching, media-shy Nancy Reagan opens up to Vanity Fair’s Bob Colacello about a wide range of subjects, including the Bushes, the Obamas, her White House battles, and how her life has changed since the death of her husband, five years ago. Colacello met with the former First Lady at her Bel-Air home, which he describes in detail, and his article, “Nancy Reagan’s Solo Role,” shows how a woman who for so long defined herself in relation to her husband is managing life on her own. Among the topics the article covers are:

Nancy Reagan on the Obamas

• Michelle Obama called Nancy Reagan for “advice” and “suggestions,” and in the course of a 45-minute conversation, Mrs. Reagan encouraged Mrs. Obama to have lots of state dinners. Colacello senses that she’s about to contrast the Obamas favorably with the Bushes, who were famously averse to entertaining at the White House, but then stops herself.

• She feels President Obama missed an opportunity when he did not invite her to the ceremony announcing his reversal of Bush’s policy on embryonic-stem-cell research. “I would have gone, and you know I don’t like to travel,” she tells Colacello. “Politically it would have been a good thing for him to do. Oh, well, nobody’s perfect. He called and thanked me for working on it. But he could have gotten more mileage out of it.”