She said that what she wanted out of life was to be Mrs. Ronald Reagan.

The chattering classes, of course, chattered about this, sniggering at her famous “adoring gaze.”

They called her the dragon-lady, in part because she protected him.

But this week the frail and dignified former first lady has received the praise she deserved.

Writing in National Review, Myrna Blyth tied Nancy Reagan to the precepts of a new book, Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.

“Without the benefit of enraged ’exclusive interviews on Sixty Minutes or screeching headlines in the New York Times,” Blyth writes the book is doing well.

You can guess why the book has not been embraced in certain circles.

“Laura’s premise is simple:” writes Blythe. “Men have unique needs that should be respected. They want to be cared for and loved. They don’t want to be criticized and nagged. (When I read the previous sentence out loud to my husband, he just grinned and nodded.)

“I was amazed at the reaction I have had from so many men about this book,” Laura says. “So many of them are so unhappy. They feel emotionally abused by the women in their lives. Women have been told for so long that men are powerful and that women are always victims that they believe it. They expect men to be understanding of them, even when they are hostile, dismissive and undermining to the men in their lives. In truth men are fairly simple. They are born and raised by women. The acceptance and love of a woman is central to their whole lives. The woman, who knows that and is wise enough to use that power benevolently will have a happy life.”

Mrs. Reagan knew that, and the love and acceptance she gave Ronald Reagan made her the central fact of his life.

“This past weekend I read Laura’s book off and on while watching the many tributes to President Reagan,” writes Blyth. “Obviously, a woman who understood how to take care of a husband, in the best of times and the worst, is Nancy Reagan. Nobody could help but admire the valiant way she coped with her husband’s long illness. The couple’s great friend Michael Deaver has said: “As the years progressed, she didn’t really go anywhere. She was simply there with him…Ronald Reagan was her life. From the time she met him, she’d done anything she could for him.”