It would take a hard-hearted person indeed not to feel some sympathy for the Reagans today as they confront the equivalent of a supermarket tabloid scandal carried to the 20th power.
Reagan has issued a more or less all-points denial of what is contained in the sensational "unauthorized biography" of Nancy Reagan by the indefatigable celebrity giant-killer Kitty Kelley. The problem is that a fair amount of what Kelley reports is now a matter of public record, and it is not a flattering picture of the couple who purported to be the standard-bearer of "traditional family values" in America. We know, for instance, that Nancy was pregnant at the time Reagan took her as his second wife in 1952. In that innocent time, that fact alone would have rendered Reagan totally unacceptable as a Republican presidential candidate.
But, you may say, times change, we are more tolerant now of what people do in their private lives. True. But that's a difficult argument for the Reagans to make precisely because they implicitly presented themselves as the moral arbiters of the land, the tireless partisans of the image of America the Innocent.