Joe Doakes got to writing before I did this morning:
A research chemist turned lawyer who became a elected representative of the people of Finchley, Margaret Thatcher changed the world.
As Great Britain’s longest-serving (and only female) Prime Minister, “The Iron Lady” fought Liberalism and championed Conservative policies that won a war, rejuvenated the national economy and defeated the Soviets.
Margaret Thatcher passed away today, April 8, 2013. She was one of my heroes.
And mine, too. Although it took a while.
I was still very much a liberal – in my self-induldgent, bobbleheaded adolescent way, which is really not a whole lot different than liberals of any age, so I’ll give myself a pass – when Thatcher took office. Being as tuned into Brit pop-culture – which has long led Hollywood at painting the left’s cultural toenails – I fumed along as she broke the steelworkers strike, and railed at what declared her “jingoism” in my shrill, strident way. And 25 years before Sarah Palin, she got all the same brickbats liberalism reserves for all apostate women and minorities; I nodded along as a liberal teacher referred to her as an “ersatz woman” during the Falklands war.
But as I started to understand conservatism, I also started to understand that the Iron Lady was the real thing.
She was right about socialism – and in an era when Republicans fret about “messaging”, she got it:
As an oratory geek? I hasten to remind you that Thatcher was a member of the British Parliament – which is a rough-and-tumble oratorical scrum that would eat most American legislators alive. A successful Member of Parliament must be not only a capable legislator, not only a capable orator with a prepared speech, but able to turn active and vituperative heckling on its head to their advantage. And as capable as Thatcher was at the prepared speech, she packed the gear to hold much more than her own on the floor of the House of Commons, as in this exchange in re responding to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait:
Picture a stand-up comic needing to shut down not just a heckler, but dozens of them – while observing neo-Victorian rules of decorum, and staying on message to boot.
Picture any American legislator trying to do this. Good luck.
She was, of course, a fast friend and ally to Ronald Reagan; she worked with him and an unlikely coalition of leaders from across the political aisle in public on behalf of Solidarnosc…:
…and with Reagan, Pope John Paul II and (of all people) the AFL-CIO’s Lane Kirkland under the table to funnel aid to the belaguered Polish union, and throughout the battle to contain and, eventually, subdue the Communists.
And thirty-one years ago, she stood up eloquently for the idea that while peace was the goal and the ideal and the necessity, a nation’s sovereignty meant something:
As a young conservative, perhaps her greatest line…
…didn’t make nearly as much sense to me as it does today. At a time when the Republican Party seems to have become exactly what we detested about Bill Clinton – driven by polling and consultants and inside-the-beltway contingencies – along with none of the things that made Clinton successful, the idea that Conservatism is not for turning is one that we need more than ever.
RIP, Madame Prime Minster.
(NOTE: While I value a robust discussion in my comment section, I’ll have very limited tolerance for stupidity in this thread. Comments I deem excessively stupid will be mutilated with glee. Don’t push me).