When Marie Antoinette was told the peasants had no bread, she famously responded with “Let them eat cake.”
She didn’t mean to be cruel. She had grown up in world where food was always available; if one thing wasn’t available, substitute another. She didn’t understand.
And I think that was Nancy Reagan’s problem. When she famously suggested “Just Say No,” the words were coming from a sheltered, protected, timid little bird-in-a-gilded-cage, one who knew nothing of the world outside. She had no idea what poverty and addiction were like. From her vantage, those were problems easily solved.
The difference between the two women is that Nancy had an opportunity to venture outside her cage, and never took advantage of it. A better husband, had she had one, would have helped her to see the world beyond her own privileged existence.
It’s both shameful and a shame that the idea never occurred to either of them.