Co-Starring At the White House

Nancy Reagan's clout and causes bring new respect

It was nearly noon, and Nancy Reagan stood in the Red Room with a butler, waiting. Over in the Oval Office, her husband had just finished the most consequential diplomatic meeting of his first term, last fall's tete-a-tete with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko. Now, for a few minutes, she was to do her duty as First Lady, to greet and charm the visitor from Moscow.

Something to drink? Gromyko took a glass of fruit juice, Nancy one of Perrier; the chitchat was of liters and pints, metrics vs. the old American way. But then Gromyko abruptly turned the small talk...

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