Hillary Clinton’s Undignified Attack on Margaret Thatcher
There’s hardly a day that goes by that Hillary Clinton does not remind us why she lost to Donald Trump. Her latest episode in undignified behavior came when she went on BBC Radio 5 to promote her new book that she co-authored with daughter Chelsea entitled The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience. As a Brit, host Emma Barnett found it interesting that missing from the book was former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and when asked about it, Clinton all but admitted that it was because Thatcher had the wrong politics.
Whatever you think of Thatcher’s politics there is no doubt that she was “gutsy.” She took on and broke the labor unions which had an iron grip on British politics up until her tenure. She famously refused to “U-turn” when her policies became unpopular, “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning,” which eventually allowed her to turn Britain from a country with a socialist consensus into one with a market consensus.
She is arguably the greatest wartime leader since Winston Churchill, only George H.W. Bush could potentially challenge her for that title. Thatcher doesn’t get the same recognition as Bush because the Falklands War was smaller in terms of time and scale than the Gulf War, but her defiance led to the U.K. being able to win in the international court of public opinion, including at the United Nations Security Council. She at once agreed to First Sea Lord Admiral Henry Leach’s naval task force, a less “gutsy” leader, including many male leaders, would not have risked what many said was an impossible operation. She refused to back down from her demand that the only acceptable peaceful outcome would be unconditional Argentine withdrawal, and when peace failed she let her on station commander, Rear Admiral Sandy Woodward, run the show and backed him up when he sent London an urgent request to sink the Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano outside of the declared exclusion zone.
Throughout it all, the former food chemist turned prime minister refused, unlike Clinton, to play the sexist card and kept her sense of humor. During an interview with Terry Wogan, Wogan commented that during Prime Minister’s Questions, male MPs were not going easy on her. Thatcher responded, “No, why should they? I don’t make any concession to the fact that they are men.”
Captain David Hart Dyke, who commanded HMS Coventry which was sunk by enemy aircraft during the war, recounted another famous instance in his memoir:
I was invited to be a guest of the Prime Minister at a dinner at Number Ten Downing Street. All the key players both at home and in the South Atlantic during the war were present… Our wives were invited to join us at a reception later, but not before the Prime Minister and [Chief of the Defense Staff] Admiral [Terence] Lewin had made brief speeches and she, the only woman present, had stoop up and asked, to much laughter ‘Gentlemen, shall we join the ladies?’
Margaret Thatcher wasn’t just one of the “gutsiest” female leaders ever, she was one of the “gutsiest” leaders ever, regardless of gender, but still she was snubbed by Clinton for her book. Why? “Because she doesn’t fit the other part of our definition, in our opinion, which is knocking down barriers for others.” Um, what? Margaret Thatcher was the first female prime minister in British history. If that’s not “knocking down barriers,” than what is?
She also accused Thatcher of not attempting to “make a positive difference. I think the record is mixed with her.” Margaret Thatcher, being the believer in meritocracy that she was, declined to surround herself with female ministers for the sake of having female ministers and that was something that Clinton had a hard time being willing accept. As was her wider worldview as illustrated when Clinton falsely accused Thatcher of not believing in “community.” What Thatcher actually said was:
There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.
Exactly the opposite of what Clinton implied. At least she sort of admitted that the only reason why Thatcher was left off the list of “gutsy women” was because she was a conservative.