20 APRIL 1991, Page 49

High life

In defence

of Nancy


New York My little boy, John-Taki, is dyslexic and goes to a special school. He makes up for his inability to read by using his imagi- nation not unlike Jules Verne. For exam- ple, last week he told the class how he travelled to the moon in the special shuttle that Nato operates out of Athens. Apparently he described the moon and the shuttle in such detail his teacher thought I was involved in the space programme.

Well, Bob Woodward of the Washington Post is known in the trade for doing a John- Taki on President Nixon's last days, and better yet, for when he had a dying William Casey confess to him everything Ronald Reagan and the CIA had done wrong. I remember being in Washington at the time and the hacks guffawing over it. The wife and daughter of Casey swore the head spook did his confessing in church and not to the man who invented deep throat. Last week, of course, another John-Taki surfaced, this time in female form and far more lethal than the Post hack. Needless to say, I'm talking of the queen of sleaze, Kitty Kelley. But first I must declare an interest. I have disliked and written unkindly of Nancy Reagan ever since I met her in the company of a walker so shallow he makes even an ignoramus like Rory Knight Bruce seem like Shakespeare. She spoke non-stop about a pool house, I believe.

During the Reagan years it emerged that she was also greedy, vindictive and obsessed with PR glitz. This was acknowl- edged by most people who knew her and widely written about. What I particularly disliked was her trying to shift the greatest American President of this century towards the centre. She was aware that most hacks are lefties and she was always appeasing them. She never understood that hacks respect only the whip, not the carrot.

One thing she was not, however, was a bad wife. A woman's role is to make the man happy, and RR was very, very happy. Her influence could not have been great because Reagan did buckle the Evil Empire's knees, did re-arm America and did cut taxes. She was against all three.

The Kelley opus is 575 pages of non-stop vilification. If this is biography, I'm a celi- bate feminist. Kelley's methods are not unlike the evidence offered by the KGB in Soviet courts of law. No matter how outra- geous the rumour, how ludicrous the gos- sip, how unreliable the source, it is reported as fact. It reminds me of Walter Duranty, when 30 million Ukrainians were starving to death, reporting to the New York Times how well fed they were.

And speaking of the Tel Aviv-on-the- Hudson Times, they were by far the most hypocritical. The paper ran the puerile gos- sip and falsehoods of La Kelley on the front page, burying the Kennedy mess among the real estate news. (The Spectator and yours truly appeared on television here this week: 'We interrupt this pro- gramme to bring you new revelations . . . '). It was yet another try from the Left to den- igrate the Reagan Presidency.

Personally, I never dreamed that I'd be defending Nancy, but there you are. Having wrong values does not make one a monster, but assassinating someone in print does. What bothers me most, howev- er, is the fact that intelligent people believe such b—. That was the subject of conversa- tion at my party last week. When I intro- duced Norman Mailer to the crowd, describing him as the world's greatest man because at one time in his life he had a wife, a mistress and four girlfriends, some- one yelled, 'Did he have Nancy?' Even I felt sorry for the old clothes-horse.