Posts Tagged ‘Margaret Thatcher’
December 6th, 2013 at 4:26 pm
A Classless Act from President Obama
Posted by Print

The White House announced today that President Obama and the First Lady will be traveling to South Africa next week to pay their respects to the memory of Nelson Mandela. That’s as it should be. While the media’s rush to canonize Mandela is a bit overwrought (his ultimate legacy was unquestionably positive, but that shouldn’t be allowed to obscure his many faults, which are presented in an admirably balanced fashion in National Review’s editorial on his life), his was still a deeply significant life, worthy of presidential recognition.

Given that sentiment, you may be wondering what the “classless act” I’m referring to in the title is. It’s not paying homage to Mandela; it’s the contrast with the events of eight months ago, when this happened:

Friends and allies of Baroness Thatcher expressed ‘surprise and disappointment’ last night as it emerged President Obama is not planning to send any serving member of his administration to her funeral.

… a US embassy spokesman confirmed that no serving member of his administration would be present to pay their last respects, citing a busy week in US domestic politics.

Obviously, the President — with his signature policy initiative currently on life support — is no less pressed for time now than he was upon Lady Thatcher’s death. It doesn’t take too deep a dive into his intellectual biography to find the root cause of this double standard: Obama has been open about his identification with Mandela; Thatcher was clearly a figure he regarded as alien at best, an attitude he seems to apply to the British with some regularity.

Obama is perfectly within his rights as an individual to hold some world figures in higher esteem than others. As President, however, he ought to feel obligated to remember the importance of his ceremonial role — one in which he is a totem of the United States, even if it occasionally puts him in positions that make him squeamish. Nelson Mandela deserves his recognition; Margaret Thatcher did too. It’s a shame that he couldn’t rise above his own university campus provincialism to pay her that respect.

June 27th, 2013 at 2:13 pm
Puncturing Liberal Climate Change Pretension in a Single Tweet
Posted by Print

In my column this week, I take aim at President Obama’s announcement earlier this week that he’s unilaterally moving the EPA towards forcing carbon emission reductions on coal producers. Of course, this will impact the job prospects of precisely the sort of everymen that liberals claim to champion, an observation rendered beautifully concise by Rupert Darwall writing at the Prospect blog:

A brilliant tweet at the time of the Thatcher funeral encapsulates the left’s ideological confusion—being in favour of coal miners and against what they mined.

April 15th, 2013 at 10:02 am
Podcast: North Korea Threats Draw Concern
Posted by Print

In an interview with CFIF, Bruce Herschensohn, author, foreign policy expert, Pepperdine University School of Public Policy senior fellow and a member of CFIF’s Board of Directors, discusses North Korea and the responses from the United States and China, the continued crisis in the Middle East and the legacy of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Listen to the interview here.

April 9th, 2013 at 10:00 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Margaret Thatcher 1925-2013
Posted by Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez. 

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

April 8th, 2013 at 12:01 pm
Iron in the Dame

It was October of 2001 at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama. The distinctively clipped, English accent of the speaker was unmistakeable. “The protection of freedom in the world today depends on the global alliance of the English-speaking peoples,” she said.

And, as always, Margaret Thatcher was right.

This was one of the final three or four public speeches that Lady Thatcher ever gave. About six weeks later, it was announced that she had suffered a series of small strokes over the preceding three or so months — indeed, there were signs in Point Clear, as the evening wore on, of a little bit of confusion and repetitiveness from the great lady — and that she therefore would stop giving speeches. But for the first hour or so of the evening, the former British Prime Minister was very much at the top of her game, clear and eloquent and insightful.

Her point was not that English-speaking peoples are inherently superior — far from it. Her point was that the political institutions and cultures of the English-speaking peoples were the ones most respectful of liberty (the only exception, perhaps, is Switzerland), and the ones also most protective of it. The United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and increasingly India, she said, along with a few other scattered former colonies of Great Britain — all with the common heritage stemming from the British republican/constitutional system that began developing with Magna Carta — were devoted to free markets and individual liberty. If these English-speaking peoples do not stand strong for the values of liberty, and are not willing to defend them, then nobody else will do so, or at least not with effectiveness.

It was a very good point. True, and inspirational.

Margaret Thatcher, who served in Parliament with an elderly Winston Churchill, was very much a proponent of this quintessentially Churchillian worldview. Also, of course, she shared Churchill’s revulsion for Communism, especially as exemplified in the Soviet empire. And by the fall of 2001, in a new millennium, she clearly recognized international jihadism as a threat approximately as great as the one the Soviets had posed.

Domestically, meanwhile, she was far firmer than Churchill in favor of free markets, against the excesses of the welfare state and the unionized power grabs, and for limited government.

Many words will be written about what an important and effective ally she was for Ronald Reagan as Reagan led the international alliance that destroyed that Soviet empire. Many words will be written about her stalwart personal character, her courage, her intelligence, and her grace. The laudatory words will certainly be on target. She was one of the great leaders of the 20th Century — or, indeed, of any century since the Enlightenment.

On the very night that Ronald Reagan died in 2004, I happened to be in London. In fact, at approximately the moment Reagan died, I was finishing up a meal at Rules of London, sitting at a corner table, staring at a wonderful wall mural of a very well done imaginary image, somewhat whimsical, of Margaret Thatcher dressed in a suit of armor with an iron lance in her hand. The expression on her face was resolute — and serene in its resolution.

I rather imagine that Thatcher herself probably loved that mural inside London’s famous restaurant. My wife and I certainly did.

Margaret Thatcher was very much of the character of the spirit of the best of medieval chivalry — a female Lord Percival whose heart on all essential matters was pure and whose public virtue was married to unflinching courage.

Today she joined Reagan, and her beloved husband Denis, and Churchill, in the Lord’s joy. May she rest in the Lord’s peace forever.

January 23rd, 2012 at 10:49 am
Iron Lady Lacks Substance

James Bowman’s review today, at the American Spectator, of Iron Lady, the Meryl Streep movie about Margaret Thatcher, is right on target. He complains that the movie lingers (and lingers and lingers and lingers) over an almost entirely fictional account of Lady Thatcher in her dotage (yes, she has a form of dementia now, but the film invents its manifestations from thin air), while showing very little of her actual career in public life. Indeed, the entire period from the Falklands War to the end of the Cold War (nine years) is disposed of via a montage that lasts all of about 45 seconds, or maybe a minute. We see plenty of flashbacks of her showing her iron, but very, very little that indicate what she is showing her iron about. As Bowman writes, the producers have made “a political movie from which the politics has been extracted as a taxidermist draws out the brain of an animal he is stuffing through its nose. If there were any politics in it, they would have had to pick a side and portray Margaret Thatcher as essentially right or essentially wrong, so offending a significant portion of their potential audience who are, more than 30 years later, still passionately committed to one view or the other.

But this is foolish. They still could have avoided taking sides while portraying a lot more of the events of her career from a basically neutral standpoint. This isn’t journalism, of course, but even today there are good journalists who show that an even-handed neutrality in reporting can avoid betraying any bias while still portraying events in an interesting, dramatic (but not dramatized), even gripping manner. If print journalists can do this, it should be even easier for film-makers to do so.

For instance, a film-maker need evince no position on Thatcher’s philosophy in order to have Streep-as-Thatcher recreate the famous phone call in which Thatcher told the elder Bush to not “go wobbly” against Saddam Hussein. One need not agree with Thatcher’s support of Ronald Reagan’s hard line in the Cold War to show her making a speech in support of deploying mid-range missiles in Europe. And so on. Plenteous drama is achievable without necessarily taking sides. But the film-makers do none of this. As a result, they take the remarkable life of an indomitable lady and turn it into a series of brief flashbacks supporting the story of an almost pathetically confused old dame. Again, go back and read Bowman’s review. Good stuff.

July 17th, 2010 at 3:16 pm
Another Leftist Fantasy Film Depicts a Conservative Leader as Mentally Deficient

Seemingly, there is no end to the vitriol – subtle and otherwise – that leftist filmmakers are able to conjure up for movies about conservative political leaders.  In the latter half of his presidency George W. Bush was the depicted as a mentally unstable frat boy in the movie W and as an assassination target in Death of a President.

Now, Britain’s most consequential (and best) statesman since Winston Churchill will be portrayed as suffering from dementia while regretting her political career.  Not content to let former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s legacy be ignored by nearly all leaders in modern British politics, the people behind the film The Iron Lady are getting Meryl Streep to help create a storyline that isn’t true.  Yes, Thatcher is declining mentally, and I’m sure she regrets the fact that her party lacked the courage to maintain her defense of free markets and traditional British culture.  But that’s a far cry from regretting the very ideas that made her successful.

Is this kind of character assassination the only kind of creativity the film industry is capable of anymore when it comes to political figures?  If so, where’s the movie about an elderly version of Bill Clinton recounting all his life’s missed opportunities and wasted moments of self-indulgence?  Where is the TV mini-series about the epic match-up of egos between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?  They could call it The Plastic Lady v. The Gen-X Candidate.  The series could explore all the psychological problems propelling the main characters to forsake healthy family relationships and a normal life for the chance to run everyone else’s.

But maybe those stories would be too boring.  After all, there’d be almost no suspense.

For now, I’ll sit back and hope that Streep’s Iron Lady is at least as insightful as Helen Mirren’s portrayal of Elizabeth II in The Queen.  As Mirren’s Academy Award for Best Actress demonstrates, even Oscar likes a performance that advances more than just a political agenda.

September 17th, 2009 at 1:56 am
Andrew Sullivan Pulls Grenade, Throws Pin
Posted by Print

A reader sent me a link to this confused piece by Andrew Sullivan over at his Daily Dish blog on the Atlantic.

Sullivan — whose career in recent years has consisted of trying to find the most erudite style in which to whine — fixates on the revelation that Margaret Thatcher feared the implications of a reunified Germany and a disbanded Warsaw Pact in the wake of the Cold War’s end.

As Sullivan rightly notes, this was a rare example of the Iron Lady embracing foreign policy “realism”: the notion that states act only in a narrowly-defined sense of self-interest that is true regardless of regime type and ideology. And — though I rarely have cause to say it — Thatcher was wrong about this one. After two decades of peaceful German reunification, we have empirical proof that the catalyst for German expansionism was the nature of the regime and not the fact of German nationhood. While the former Warsaw Pact countries have been decidedly less stable, there is no question that the spread of liberal democracy throughout Eastern Europe and the Caucasus (along with the expansion of NATO) has made the world a freer, safer place in the years since the Berlin Wall came down.

What’s so peculiar about Sullivan’s take is his snide conclusion: “… what’s interesting is to see Thatcher, a neocon idol, acting in such brutally realist fashion. Toryism, even Thatcherism, is not neoconservatism, is it?” Well, in this instance, no, they’re clearly at loggerheads. But Sullivan, who seems to think he can win arguments these days simply by invoking “neoconservatism” as a pejorative, seems blithely unaware of the implications of his argument.

If neoconservatism stands athwart Sullivan’s lionized realism, does that mean he longs for a still-partitioned Germany and an expanded Soviet orbit? And if so, isn’t that a bit of a jog to go on just because you hate neoconservatives?