Skip to comments.Thatcher will win the verdict of history
Posted on 06/12/2004 5:34:12 PM PDT by MadIvan
AND then there was one... The striking, poignant image of a black-clad Margaret Thatcher bowed over the coffin of Ronald Reagan was an iconic snapshot of history. The partnership that demolished Communism had finally been dissolved by death. In the present era of candy-floss soundbite politics, predicated upon nothing more than the acquisition of office by manipulation of the public mood - rootless and purposeless - that wordless farewell was a moment of greatness revisited.
Lady Thatcher is now the sole survivor of a very personal alliance that remoulded the world. It is all too easy to overlook that prodigious reality, because the perception of Margaret Thatcher in Britain is distorted by party rancour, by the lingering shrieks of the dinosaurs she extinguished and by the axiom that a prophet is seldom honoured on the native heath. Yet the world view and the verdict of history place her on a very high plinth indeed - one reserved for those first-rank statesmen who have made a unique contribution to human destiny.
The history of the 20th century is bracketed - like bookends - by Lenin and Stalin at the start, Reagan and Thatcher at the end. "We will bury you!" blustered Khrushchev. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan determined to reverse that process and to do so as bloodlessly as possible. One document, apparently trivial in character, survives to mark the birth of this formidable partnership.
On April 30, 1975, the day the Communists entered the capital of South Vietnam, bringing to naught the United States massive sacrifice of blood and treasure - the date that was the high-water mark of the criminal enterprise launched by Lenin in 1917 - Ronald Reagan wrote a brief letter to Margaret Thatcher. In substance, it was little more than a social thank you note; in essence, it was the launch of a crusade.
"Ive chosen a dark day to write a belated thank you for being so generous with your time on the occasion of our recent visit," wrote the future president. "The news has just arrived of Saigons surrender and somehow the shadows seem to have lengthened."
That sombre opening did not reflect a defeatist attitude: he went on to invite Mrs Thatcher to America, where the alliance was forged that accomplished the destruction of the most gigantic tyranny to have defiled the history of mankind. Four years later, she was prime minister, and, shortly after, he became president of America. The outcome will preoccupy historians for centuries.
Margaret Thatchers domestic achievements included the ending of trade union dictatorship, the re-booting of the economy, victory in the Falklands, the reassertion of personal freedom and, above all, the restoration of national confidence and identity. Her successes will be less disputed by historians than her philosophy. Is she, in fact, a Tory? The rigidly academic answer, much rehearsed by young fogeys in watch-chains, is in the negative. According to the high priests of Tory tradition, Thatcherism is economic liberalism of the 19th-century Manchester school, reheated by Sir Keith Joseph and served with a dash of such exotic herbs as Hayek, Friedman and Pirie.
That thesis fails to explain other aspects of Margaret Thatchers character and beliefs that are as Tory as the primrose. Her instinctive patriotism and devotion to the national interest, the flag and the armed services; her respect for the monarchy, the House of Lords and all the other elements of tradition with which this intensely innovative prime minister never tinkered (unlike the Blair régime) - these characteristics indicate a more classically Tory mindset than is usually credited to her.
The historic Tory Party has always been a composite body. It is like a country house, with wings and accretions of differing styles and periods clustered around the original 17th-century core. Thatcherism is not part of that ancient kernel; but it is a functional extension that does not clash with the original architecture. Tory pragmatism requires certain adjustments to society in response to events: the advance of corporatism, the debilitation of the economy, the elimination of personal choice were poisons in the body politic to which Thatcherism provided the antidote.
At the heart of the largely wilful misinterpretation of Mrs Thatchers agenda is the famous quotation "there is no such thing as society". Taken out of context - as it invariably is - that sounds like libertarianism degenerating into anarchy. It is one of those historical canards, like Marie Antoinettes "Let them eat cake".
Margaret Thatcher made this remark during an interview with Womans Own magazine on October 3, 1987. With her female audience in mind, she was making the familiar point that individuals and families must not surrender their rights and responsibilities to the state: "Theyre casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families Its our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations."
In other words, self-help, tempered with compassion and charity, assistance for those who need it, but no free-loading passengers. Only the most doctrinaire statist would object. Of course, there are plenty of those in Scotland, the Jurassic Park for dinosaurs, courtesy of devolution. Ritual denunciation of the poll tax ignores the fact that it was introduced, at the urgent demand of Scottish taxpayers, to redress a situation whereby 1.9 million ratepayers supported local authorities with an electorate of 3.9 million.
In the teeth of last-ditch resistance by the Scottish Left, Margaret Thatcher increased home ownership in Scotland from one-third of the population to one half. Now local authorities are planning to abolish tenants right to buy, as the dark waters of state control again close over the heads of Scots, in the Potemkin village created by devolution.
The sniping of pygmies at a leader of world stature can make no impact on historys verdict. The solitary woman in black standing before Ronald Reagans catafalque is the liberator of hundreds of millions and one of the greatest idealists of the 20th century. In her own words: "Economics are the method; the object is to change the soul."
Alright Rack Maggie Thatcher and Ronnie on smackdown Communism
You know what Ivan I saw Maggie accompany Reagan family back to Cali for buriel I think Maggie be next one to go
She go fighting
I hope she has a tremendous showing of affection in Britain when it's her turn to pass from this life. Her eulogy was magnificent. She's quite a lady.
Do you agree or disagree?
Interesting that Margaret Thatcher and Gold Meier, to women of towering strength led their countries at such trying times.
Lady Thatcher's eulogy was absolutely Churchillian.
What a grand lady.
Lady Thatcher is totally cool! Her prerecorded testimonial to Reagan was awesome!
Thank you Lady Thatcher, Prime Minister Blair and the British people for your steadfast support in defending the precious gifts of freedom, liberty and justice and in extending these gifts to those unable to defend themselves from the throes of tyranny.
Freedom isn't free.
This is going up on my links page. A few things have been going up there these last few days.
"Lady Thatcher's eulogy was absolutely Churchillian.
What a grand lady."
Margaret Thatcher - Top drawer, first class lady.
She is the one foreign leader I love. A few I admire, but that number, sadly, is dwindling.
She is a warrior!
God makes few people with the qualities of Lady Margaret Thacher
As you can see, people are reassessing Our Maggie too.
Well, they damn well better.
Reagan and Thatcher go hand in hand.
A woman of rare charm with a steel spine.
It was wonderful of her to be there, she was indispensable.
(Unlike hitlery's portrait someone had posted on here the other day.)
It is now up to us, all the people of the US and UK, to collectively decide whether to continue down the path forged by these two giants.
I wish I weren't so worried as to what the final decision will be.
A fitting epitaph for the UN. But don't count on them dissolving it. The UN is the prototype for the planned world government. The "King of the World" (Antichrist) will rule through the UN.
It has been too long-- I have missed seeing you around.
As great as Reagan was, Maggie was his equal. We need not argue over superiors in this contest-- they needed and complimented each other.
In many ways she faced a harder battle than he did, over a nation that was not quite as powerful as America, a nation closer to the frontlines, a nation having a terrorist problem we would not face to the same degree for years, with a public that was by inclination further to the left than our own over here.
Her eulogy was beyond perfect.
Strangely, I expected nothing less of her.
Am I missing something? Aren't GW Bush and Tony Blair doing the same thing?
God was with her as well. The very second she bade Reagan farewell and turned to walk away was the very second the sun finally slipped behind the mountain top to the west.
I think they are, on the international level. But it is not quite the same for a few reasons. Neither Bush nor Blair have domestic policy down correctly the way Thatcher and Blair did-- although Bush is closer. Neither Bush nor Blair have their rhetorical skills down-- although Blair is much closer.
She has more character in her little finger than most politicians have in their entire bodies.
"Ronald Reagan wrote a brief letter to Margaret Thatcher. "
Would anyone here know if that letter is online somewhere?
See http://www.rightsided.org for the note and more.
You nailed it with that post.
Here is the text of that letter:
Dear Mrs Thatcher: April 30
I've chosen a dark day to write a belated thank you for being so generous with your time on the occasion of your recent visit. The news has just arrived of Saigan's surrendor and somehow the shadow seems to have lengthened.
You were very kind and I am grateful. I hope you'll find it possible to accept your Calif. speaking invitations. If you can, Mrs. Reagan and I would like very much to return your hospitality. In the meantime, please know you have an enthusiastic supporter out here in the "colonies."
Again thanks and best regards.
"colonies". Reagan humor once more.
Don't get me wrong, I thank God for Bush and for Blair. They are doing great.
Pointing out that Manny Ramierez is not Barry Bonds or Babe Ruth does not make Manny Ramierez chopped liver.
Why do the Brits always destroy their heros? Churchill, Magnificent Maggie, and now Blair? Oh, I know they always use local politics as an excuse, but they still toss out those who remind the world how great the Brits really are.
The Great Liberator
The Iron Lady Still Has Her Magic
This Mortal Coil and the Nature of Funerals
As have many of my countrymen, I have been moved today by the funeral ceremonies of President Ronald Reagan. In what may be the most moving eulogy of my lifetime, Margaret Thatcher summed up a life and a time that so changed the world. At the end of this brief essay, I give you the full text of her affecting tribute.
We will return to our usual beat of finance next week, but this week I offer a few personal thoughts on the passing of "The Gipper."
Much of this week has been a warm and deserved tribute to Ronald Reagan, the man and the visionary. It has been a welcome respite from the truly partisan climate in which we find ourselves emerged.
But it is a climate with which Reagan himself was much familiar. Much of his term was mired in controversy and political bitterness. Who can forget his nomination of Robert Bork, which has inspired a new word in our national political vocabulary? The political climate was one of emotionally charged rancor, typified so sadly by one scene which Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal described thusly: "The air burned with political antipathy. I recall in 1985 attending a confirmation hearing [for the very decent and gentlemanly Ed Meese, who was nominated for Attorney General]. The confirmation was a long ordeal whose details are forgotten. But on this day, Senator Joe Biden ended along, dramatic denunciation of Mr. Meese by intoning, twice, that the nominee was 'beneath contempt.' There was a sound in the silent room. It was Mr. Meese's wife seated behind him, sobbing violently. The Bork confirmation, this [political] war's most famous assassination, was two years away."
Much of academia and the intellectual crowd were horrified at Reagan's direct, and to them unsophisticated and undiplomatic, foreign policy. His opponents urged the moral equivalency of other systems, and most specifically communism. For Reagan, it was simply the evil empire.
His opponents attacked his intellect, disparaging him as an actor, and a second rate one at that. They were furious that he cut taxes, increased defense spending and ran up huge deficits.
But it was not just at home that Reagan was disparaged. The French and much of Europe viewed him as naive and simplistic. He was called a cowboy. They were afraid of his politics, and thousands would protest upon his visits to Europe. The Soviet Union, they intoned (with the exception of Thatcher) was to be "negotiated with" and not confronted.
And they were wrong. As a direct result of his "simplistic" policy ("We win. They lose," he once famously said at the beginning of his first term), the Evil Empire collapsed and Reagan forged the very beginning of an alliance with a former enemy. He openly backed Volker in his fight against inflation, although it created a deep recession. (What politician today would openly embrace a recession that was for the long-term good but would create short term pain?) His tax cuts and the economic stimulus set the stage for the greatest economic boom in human history. And today, much (though certainly not all) of the US and the world looks back with a much more pleasant view of what was a very unpleasant political time.
As Margaret Thatcher notes, "And so today the world - in Prague, in Budapest, in Warsaw, in Sofia, in Bucharest, in Kiev and in Moscow itself - the world mourns the passing of the Great Liberator."
Sadly, not much has changed. Once again, the world faces an Axis of Evil. Once again the leader of the free world is called simplistic and a cowboy, both at home and abroad. His policies are opposed, his nominations rejected and the political climate is charged, if not poisoned. He has a controversial attorney general, among other appointments. Like Reagan, Bush entered his time at the beginning of a recession. Taxes are lower and deficits are soaring higher. And a confrontation with an enemy is questioned in most of the world. And, like in the 80's, we shall not know the outcome for many years. While there are those small spirits who wish the world ill so that their political opinions can be shown to be "right," right thinking people can only pray that in the hopefully far-off future that those who come to eulogize George W. Bush will look back and find that the world was a better and more peaceful place for his resolve.
The Iron Lady Still Has Her Magic
There they were. The Iron Lady, Baroness Thatcher, sitting next to Mikhail Gorbachev at the funeral. I had watched them as they paid their respects to Reagan under the Capital Dome. You could see they were moved, as they remembered the man with whom they had acted upon the largest stages of the world, forever changing the course of human events.
Her doctor would not allow her to speak, so she recorded her eulogy. She was seemingly frail as she moved around the capital. Would she, I wondered, be able to find that part of her which earned her the title "The Iron Lady?"
She did, and then some. I am sure my English friends know of a more dramatic speech by the Prime Minister, but I can remember none. It was warm and yet showed the old fire within her. Is there a man with soul so hard who did not tear up listening to her speech? I will close with a few brief comments after we read the text of Baroness Margaret Thatcher's eulogy at the funeral of President Ronald Reagan:
The Great Liberator
Remarks by Baroness Margaret Thatcher
We have lost a great president, a great American, and a great man. And I have lost a dear friend. In his lifetime Ronald Reagan was such a cheerful and invigorating presence that it was easy to forget what daunting historic tasks he set himself. He sought to mend America's wounded spirit, to restore the strength of the free world, and to free the slaves of communism. These were causes hard to accomplish and heavy with risk.
Yet they were pursued with almost a lightness of spirit. For Ronald Reagan also embodied another great cause - what Arnold Bennett once called 'the great cause of cheering us all up'. His politics had a freshness and optimism that won converts from every class and every nation - and ultimately from the very heart of the evil empire.
Yet his humour often had a purpose beyond humour. In the terrible hours after the attempt on his life, his easy jokes gave reassurance to an anxious world. They were evidence that in the aftermath of terror and in the midst of hysteria, one great heart at least remained sane and jocular. They were truly grace under pressure.
And perhaps they signified grace of a deeper kind. Ronnie himself certainly believed that he had been given back his life for a purpose. As he told a priest after his recovery "Whatever time I've got left now belongs to the Big Fella Upstairs."
And surely it is hard to deny that Ronald Reagan's life was providential, when we look at what he achieved in the eight years that followed. Others prophesied the decline of the West; he inspired America and its allies with renewed faith in their mission of freedom.
Others saw only limits to growth; he transformed a stagnant economy into an engine of opportunity.
Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; he won the Cold War - not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.
I cannot imagine how any diplomat, or any dramatist, could improve on his words to Mikhail Gorbachev at the Geneva summit: "Let me tell you why it is we distrust you."
Those words are candid and tough and they cannot have been easy to hear. But they are also a clear invitation to a new beginning and a new relationship that would be rooted in trust.
We live today in the world that Ronald Reagan began to reshape with those words. It is a very different world with different challenges and new dangers. All in all, however, it is one of greater freedom and prosperity, one more hopeful than the world he inherited on becoming president.
As Prime Minister, I worked closely with Ronald Reagan for eight of the most important years of all our lives. We talked regularly both before and after his presidency. And I have had time and cause to reflect on what made him a great president.
Ronald Reagan knew his own mind. He had firm principles - and, I believe, right ones. He expounded them clearly, he acted upon them decisively.
When the world threw problems at the White House, he was not baffled, or disorientated, or overwhelmed. He knew almost instinctively what to do. When his aides were preparing option papers for his decision, they were able to cut out entire rafts of proposals that they knew 'the Old Man' would never wear. When his allies came under Soviet or domestic pressure, they could look confidently to Washington for firm leadership.
And when his enemies tested American resolve, they soon discovered that his resolve was firm and unyielding.
Yet his ideas, though clear, were never simplistic. He saw the many sides of truth. Yes, he warned that the Soviet Union had an insatiable drive for military power and territorial expansion; but he also sensed it was being eaten away by systemic failures impossible to reform.
Yes, he did not shrink from denouncing Moscow's 'evil empire.' But he realized that a man of goodwill might nonetheless emerge from within its dark corridors. So the President resisted Soviet expansion and pressed down on Soviet weakness at every point until the day came when communism began to collapse beneath the combined weight of these pressures and its own failures. And when a man of goodwill did emerge from the ruins, President Reagan stepped forward to shake his hand and to offer sincere cooperation.
Nothing was more typical of Ronald Reagan than that large-hearted magnanimity - and nothing was more American.
Therein lies perhaps the final explanation of his achievements. Ronald Reagan carried the American people with him in his great endeavours because there was perfect sympathy between them. He and they loved America and what it stands for - freedom and opportunity for ordinary people.
As an actor in Hollywood's golden age, he helped to make the American dream live for millions all over the globe. His own life was a fulfillment of that dream. He never succumbed to the embarrassment some people feel about an honest expression of love of country.
He was able to say 'God Bless America' with equal fervour in public and in private. And so he was able to call confidently upon his fellow-countrymen to make sacrifices for America - and to make sacrifices for those who looked to America for hope and rescue.
With the lever of American patriotism, he lifted up the world. And so today the world - in Prague, in Budapest, in Warsaw, in Sofia, in Bucharest, in Kiev and in Moscow itself - the world mourns the passing of the Great Liberator and echoes his prayer "God Bless America."
Ronald Reagan's life was rich not only in public achievement, but also in private happiness. Indeed, his public achievements were rooted in his private happiness. The great turning point of his life was his meeting and marriage with Nancy. On that we have the plain testimony of a loving and grateful husband: "Nancy came along and saved my soul." We share her grief today. But we also share her pride - and the grief and pride of Ronnie's children.
For the final years of his life, Ronnie's mind was clouded by illness. That cloud has now lifted. He is himself again - more himself than at any time on this earth. For we may be sure that the Big Fella Upstairs never forgets those who remember Him. And as the last journey of this faithful pilgrim took him beyond the sunset, and as heaven's morning broke, I like to think - in the words of Bunyan - that "all the trumpets sounded on the other side."
We here still move in twilight. But we have one beacon to guide us that Ronald Reagan never had. We have his example. Let us give thanks today for a life that achieved so much for all of God's children.
This Mortal Coil and the Nature of Funerals
"What," I wondered, "were Bush, Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford thinking as they heard the words spoken this day? Were they thinking of their future date with destiny and what would be said? Were not all the great and near great who were in attendance, the leaders of the world, reflecting upon their own legacies? Would history and their friends be so kind to them?"
(As a side note, Gorbachev reached over to Thatcher after her eulogy, partly in comfort, but also, I imagine, grateful that she accorded him a place of redemption and honor for his own legacy.)
In fact, when we attend the funeral of someone who has life has made an impact upon his world for good, whether small or large, do we not all reflect upon our own small roles in this mortal coil as we play our part upon our local stages? For Shakespeare, coil was a synonym for tumult and turmoil, the hurry and bustle of life.
And much of life seems to be in fact a mortal coil - tumult and turmoil, full of hurry and bustle. How much, we wonder, of what we do matters?
Yet life does matter, both small and great. The world is a sum of the kindness and friendship, the love and caring, the honor and courage, of us all. As we each do our part, we can help leave a world where our children can hopefully deal with their own coil in a time of peace, finding their own way to redemption through the grace of their God. As we confront the darkness of fear and oppression, both in our back yards and in the world, we can each do our part. And that is a legacy that matters.
Your reflecting upon his own life analyst,
Copyright 2004 John Mauldin. All Rights Reserved.
MadIvan, I'm so glad that you are back. God bless Lady Thatcher -- a hero of mine.
I particularly enjoyed this line from the article: The history of the 20th century is bracketed - like bookends - by Lenin and Stalin at the start, Reagan and Thatcher at the end.
Here's to President Bush and PM Blair who are working to complete the bookend that began on September 11th.
Ivan....Thank you for this post.
When we were last there too many British subjects absollutely had not a clue about what that woman did for them even though their currency was the best in the world and their stability certain.
I was stunned that they really had not a clue.
I am relieved that there is some chance that historians will be prevented from inventing fables to G with preconceived (prejudiced) notions.
I found Lady Thatcher's address at
This site gives her address as:
Lady Margaret Thatcher
P.O. Box 1466
London, England SW 1X 9HY
Cannot vouch for the accuracy but I'm going to send letter of thanks to her using it.
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