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Ron and Maggie, a marriage of conviction
The Times ^ | June 06, 2004 | Andrew Porter, Deputy Political Editor

Posted on 06/05/2004 5:58:49 PM PDT by Eurotwit

THEY forged a professional and personal alliance almost unparalleled in the 20th century. Ronald Reagan called Margaret Thatcher “one of my closest friends”. She once said he was “the second most important man in my life”.

Last night Lady Thatcher, 78, said he was “a truly great American hero”.

“President Reagan was one of my closest political and dearest personal friends,” she said. “He will be missed not only by those who knew him and not only by the nation that he served so proudly and loved so deeply, but also by millions of men and women who live in freedom today because of the policies he pursued.

“Ronald Reagan had a higher claim than any other leader to have won the cold war for liberty and he did it without a shot being fired.

“To have achieved so much against so many odds and with such humour and humanity made Ronald Reagan a truly great American hero.”

Thatcher was the first foreign leader to visit Reagan in Washington after his inauguration in 1981. Immediately there was a chemistry that lasted.

In her memoirs she reprints a photo that Reagan had presented to her of him looking admiringly at her while she gave an address. His hand written note on the bottom says: “As you can see I agree with every word you are saying. I always do. Warmest friendship.” That was in 1988, the year he left the White House.

Both leaders were conviction politicians, united in certainty about their anti-communist, free-market views.

Thatcher once wrote approvingly that Reagan, “did not suffer from the dismal plague of doubts which has assailed so many politicians in our times and which has rendered them incapable of clear decisions.”

When they first met in 1975 Thatcher was struck by his “warmth, charm and complete lack of affectation — qualities which never altered in the years of leadership which lay ahead. Above all, I knew that I was talking to someone who instinctively felt and thought as I did”.

Thatcher biographer Hugo Young called their relationship “the most enduring personal alliance in the western world throughout the 1980s”.

Together they boosted military spending, won the cold war and championed low-tax, low-regulation economies. The relationship flourished despite the leaders’ differences.

She was a workaholic who immersed herself in the details of policy; he was laid-back, concerned with the big picture but happy to delegate responsibility for the details.

They had disagreements, notably over her refusal to negotiate with Argentina during the 1982 Falklands war and over the US invasion of Grenada a year later. During the Falklands conflict Reagan called to ask for a ceasefire. Thatcher refused. “This conversation was a little painful at the time but it had a worthwhile effect,” she wrote.

Thatcher also said she felt “dismayed and let down” by the 1983 US invasion of Grenada, which ended a left-wing coup in the former British colony.

But there were other moments where Thatcher was not afraid to inflame opinion of many on the left in Britain and across Europe. The most striking example was her decision to allow American air force planes to use British bases to bomb Libya in 1986.

She also eventually backed Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), known as Star Wars. Thatcher said in her memoirs: “It was central to the West’s victory in the cold war” and that his decision on SDI “was the single most important of his presidency”.

By the end of 1990 both were out of power, but the cold war was over and both could claim they were to a large extent responsible.

Their deep friendship endured out of office. In 1999, Thatcher said it was sad she could no longer share talks with the Alzheimer’s-afflicted former president.

Thatcher is now frail after a series of strokes and rarely appears in public. At the anniversary dinner last month to celebrate 25 years since Thatcher was elected to Downing Street, former US senator Jesse Helms said: “We can only voice dreadful estimates of how things might have gone if Margaret Thatcher had not become prime minister of Great Britain, and if her friend and mine, Ronald Reagan, had not become president.”

In 1995, she said she was confident history would be kind to her legacy, and Reagan’s.

“I believe when historians get down to their serious work, which will be long after I have finished with mine,” she stated, “they will judge that decade very favourably in both countries.”

TOPICS: News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: coldwar; ronaldreagan; thatcher

1 posted on 06/05/2004 5:58:49 PM PDT by Eurotwit
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To: Eurotwit
Don't allow the media to spin Reagans death as they did his life. Go to the FR Reagan Vigils post and pledge to organize or attend a vigil in your area.

2 posted on 06/05/2004 5:59:52 PM PDT by Bob J ( them out!)
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To: Eurotwit

Frankly, I have always felt I was born in the wrong era. Had I been born after WWI, I would have crossed the ocean to pursue Maggie Thatcher. What a woman!

Unfortunately, now that I'm well settled into marriage and family, Ann Coulter arrives on the scene.

My timing has always been terrible.

3 posted on 06/05/2004 7:30:32 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (I'm neither a Papist or Reaganite, but today, I mourn the passing of another age...)
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To: Eurotwit

BTTT for Reagan and Thatcher!

4 posted on 06/08/2004 7:23:57 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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