You’ve probably heard that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died. There will deservedly be many tributes to her that far surpass anything I can add.
But a few immediate thoughts come to me.
We recently marked the anniversary of the assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan. Many Americans don’t know about the bullet that would have killed him (poignantly told by Peggy Noonan in “When Character was King.”) The truth is that the three people who most changed the world in the 1980s — “The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister” — all narrowly survived assassination attempts.
Thatcher, of course, narrowly escaped an IRA hotel bombing that killed five others. The next day, The Iron Lady would deliver this speech.
But just imagine how different the world might have been, if any of these assassination attempts had succeeded. America had just endured the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and RFK, not to mention stagflation, hostages in Iran, etc. The psychological impact alone would have stunned an already crippled nation — if not the world. It’s impossible to predict the many consequences of losing any one of these tremendously vital leaders who — at just the right moment — emerged to provide the moral clarity needed to take down Communism. The Cold War might have gone quite differently without them.
On Friday, I noted that Hillary Clinton’s resume might not help her much. After all, I reasoned, the public are fickle. As I noted, they turned Winston Churchill out after winning World War II.
I didn’t mention it, but I might have added that Thatcher’s own party pushed her aside after winning the Cold War. This is a lesson to us all that Enoch Powell was right. “All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.”
The rules of life apply to even the great ones.
Lastly, I think it’s important to recall Thatcher as an inspiration to women around the world. Yesterday, I was on CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ to discuss Hillary Clinton, as well as the flap over President Obama’s paying a compliment to California’s attorney general. We all seemed to agree that this was political correctness run amok, but there are some observers who think President Obama was out of line to mention that Kamala Harris was the “best looking” attorney general in the nation.
Some people seem to believe that calling a woman attractive somehow undermines her power, but I think Thatcher would have owned it. A couple years ago, I interviewed Claire Berlinski about her excellent book, “There is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters.”
According to Berlinski, Thatcher used her looks and femininity to her advantage. As Neil Kinnock, the leader of the Labour Party during much of Thatcher’s tenure, told Berlinski, Thatcher “was fully capable of flirting and flattering to get her way.”
“[T]here were punches I could throw against, say, John Major, who’s a man of my age,” explained Kinnock, “that I just couldn’t throw against a woman seventeen years older.”