The role of First Lady is not mentioned in the Constitution so it is up to the women (and perhaps someday man) whose spouse was elected President to find her own way through his term. First Lady is a position with great privileges and perks and it also is a position that satisfies few and comes with many sacrifices.
When the President is popular the First Lady is sometime heavily criticized by the people can't touch him. When the President is unpopular she is often used by the White House staff to improve the President's image. She goes to places that are unworthy of the President's presences. She is his surrogate at tedious local party fundraisers. Her clothing, hair, shoes, personal spending habits are critiqued. She takes a trip overseas people bitch and if she does not travel people bitch. She is expected to take up any number of causes and the moment she does she is hammered for the cause.
But, she is the second most powerful person in the world. It is she who has the last word before the President goes to bed at night and the first word when the President wakes up. She is the only person on the planet the President trusts completely.
Those of us on the left have been indignant and outraged by the treatment Roslyn, Hillary and Michelle have received by their husband's opponents. And, for good reason.
How many of us had empathy for or spoke out against the absolutely vile things that were said about Nancy, Barbara or Laura?
Nancy Reagan was a great First Lady because she fulfilled the undefined duties of her role with grace, with humor and with great diligence. She stood with her man who just happened to be President of The United States as they both tried to do what they thought was right for the country.
I disagreed with President Reagan on almost everything but I never lost respect for his office or his First Lady.
Nancy Reagan has served her nation well. I hope we are all thanking her today.
The New York Times remembers Nancy Reagan here. http://nyti.ms/1TjAALa