President Barack Obama has released a graceful statement about the death of former British Primer Minister Margaret Thatcher, saying “the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend.”
For decades, Thatcher has been a hate figure for progressives, partly because of her successful cooperation with President Ronald Reagan.
She served as prime minister from 1979 to 1990, when she rolled back the British government’s regulatory machine, boosted free enterprise and backed Reagan as they pressured the Soviet Union until it collapsed in 1989.
“As prime minister, she helped restore the confidence and pride that has always been the hallmark of Britain at its best … as an unapologetic supporter of our transatlantic alliance, she knew that with strength and resolve we could win the Cold War and extend freedom’s promise,” said the president’s statement.
“In America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history — we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will.”
Obama’s statement also tried to portray her successful rise from a middle-class beginning as a victory for feminism. “As a grocer’s daughter who rose to become Britain’s first female prime minister, she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered,” the president said.
But Thatcher, who once declared, “I owe nothing to women’s lib,” believed in a mix of traditional and post-60s attitudes, and she did not push policies that favored university-trained professional women.