Could it be we took Mrs. Thatcher for granted? That’s the fate of many a good woman, particularly at the hands of men, as I’m reminded again, writing on Mother’s Day. But there’s no denying it. Search as we did on her death for a cover story the Spectator might have run of her, we came up with nothing. Disgracefully sad but true. During her prime we did run cover portraits of such distinguished of her compatriots as Orwell, Churchill, the Queen, even Michael Foot, not to mention President Reagan and Pope John Paul II. But never Margaret Thatcher.
Not until now, now that she belongs to God (p. 44) and to History (p. 20), newly appreciated and revered everywhere except perhaps in diehard Argentina (p. 24). No doubt she would enjoy and wave off what an erudite, poetic friend just told me, calling her “the greatest of the queens of Britain, an Elizabeth the First, a Victoria, or going back in time…she was Boudica, resisting the Roman invasion, she was the Faerie Queene, she was the soul and heart of England”—and he was just warming up.
But in closing he said something else that I must share with you as well. “We can say we knew her, if only from the distance, and hope remembering her will keep her country, her England, safe, and with it the West, the Atlantic West, for which she did so much.” On that my privileged mind went back to the one time I didn’t see her from a distance, but in Washington, at Georgetown’s Four Seasons Hotel, where within months of her ouster she arrived in a lovely green Rolls-Royce town car to deliver a major address on the world after the fall of Communism. She was already above politics, projecting an ethereal beauty and solemnity as she spoke, and never departing from her prepared text, wise as it was and full of affection for the last two American presidents she had worked with.
In that sense, the presence of their secretaries of state George Shultz and James Baker at her funeral brought great honor to our two countries. By sending no one from his own administration, not even his august self, Mr. Obama reminded the world not only of the shabbiness of his rule but also of the utter lack of stature in what passes for his presidency and his administration. Still, I’m grateful to him on the James Baker front. Just a year ago I heard Baker speak at the University of the South’s baccalaureate mass, urging the graduates of Sewanee to embrace Jesus as a revolutionary. Can you imagine any Obamaite repeating after Baker: “…So let me suggest to you that if you haven’t already started to read and follow the word of Jesus, doing so will turn your world upside down. Just as it has for millions of others throughout the centuries. [Pause] I know, for instance, that it has done so for me.”
Mr. Obama would turn our world upside down in other ways, alas, one result of which is that his second term is unraveling at an ever accelerating pace. But if he and his apologists want a way out, they will give Margaret Thatcher the last word. She might as well have been addressing them when she said at the Four Seasons:
Mr. Chairman, I freely acknowledge that socialists and statists often begin by finding injustices and wanting to remove them. But they go on to the notion that only state ownership and state regulation can solve such problems. You can only believe that by ignoring the lessons of history, the lessons of politics and the lessons of economics. After the experience of this century and the testimony of Eastern Europe, intellectual irresponsibility on this scale is also moral irresponsibility.