Allahpundit warned in the breaking-news post that the passing of Margaret Thatcher would probably not generate much graciousness on the Left. MSNBC proved him prophetic almost immediately, as NRO’s Eliana Johnson captured in this clip. Martin Bashir immediately launched into an attack on Thatcher as the embodiment of “selfishness and greed,” and managed to offer a quote that Thatcher probably would have enjoyed, considering the sources:
“The result was a kind of flagrant, excessive, and ostentatious pursuit of cash” in Britain, Bashir said.
He added, “The best description I ever heard of her was from French president Francois Mitterand who said she had the eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe.”
How did that flagrant pursuit of cash work out for Britons, anyway? Jim Pethokoukis reminded us this morning:
She privatized. She cut taxes. She busted unions. As economist Scott Sumner has noted, “Britain had lagged other European economies for decades, growing far more slowly than most economies on the continent. Thatcher’s reforms were among the most comprehensive in the world.”
Just compare the performance of the UK economy versus the French economy. One nation in 1979 started to again embrace markets, the other did not. Brits went from being 10% poorer than Frenchmen to being 10% richer. The lady was not for turning, but thanks in great part to her policies and determination, the economic fate of the UK and the West was.
Be sure to look at the eye-popping chart. It’s amazing how pursuit of economic growth looks when economic growth is the actual goal — as opposed to the economic and regulatory policies over the last four years of “recovery” here.
So, I guess the “let the body get cold” period for respect and graciousness only applies to liberals and the Left, huh? That seems to be the AP stylebook, too, and not just MSNBC. J. P. Freire contrasts the obits from the Associated Press for Thatcher and another world leader who recently passed away. One freed people from economic stagnation while another confiscated great swaths of the economy and created stagnation. Guess who gets better treatment?
When it comes to praising free market champions like Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the Associated Press still has trouble giving them their due. In their obituary this morning, the APleads with, and continues to harp upon, the controversy stoked during her tenure as England’s Prime Minister, instead of her actual achievements. Take the first sentence from this morning’s obit:Love her or loathe her, one thing’s beyond dispute: Margaret Thatcher transformed Britain. The Iron Lady who ruled for 11 remarkable years imposed her will on a fractious, rundown nation — breaking the unions, triumphing in a far-off war, and selling off state industries at a record pace.
“Ruled.” “Imposed her will.” The AP’s word choice apes the old Liberal attacks on Thatcher as tyrant, taking pains to equivocate between the varying opinions people had of her.For admirers, Thatcher was a savior who rescued Britain from ruin and laid the groundwork for an extraordinary economic renaissance. For critics, she was a heartless tyrant who ushered in an era of greed that kicked the weak out onto the streets and let the rich become filthy rich.
To the AP’s reporter, the history is apparently far from settled that her transformational role was a positive one. Contrast this to the AP’s coverage (by a different reporter, of course) of the death of socialist dictator, Hugo Chavez:President Hugo Chavez, the fiery populist who declared a socialist revolution in Venezuela, crusaded against U.S. influence and championed a leftist revival across Latin America, died Tuesday at age 58 after a nearly two-year bout with cancer.
This breathless introduction is followed by more plaudits:
During more than 14 years in office, Chavez routinely challenged the status quo at home and internationally. He polarized Venezuelans with his confrontational and domineering style, yet was also a masterful communicator and strategist who tapped into Venezuelan nationalism to win broad support, particularly among the poor.
Yes, he was polarizing, but he challenged the status quo! He was a masterful communicator! Why, he’s almost like Venezuela’s Thatcher! Except he received broad support, unlike Thatcher who merely “imposed her will” on a “fractious nation.”
They just can’t help themselves, can they?
Update: As an antidote to Bashir, let’s hear from Andrew Sullivan about what Britain was really like — and how Thatcher changed everything:
To put it bluntly: The Britain I grew up in was insane. The government owned almost all major manufacturing, from coal to steel to automobiles. Owned. It employed almost every doctor and owned almost every hospital. Almost every university and elementary and high school was government-run. And in the 1970s, you could not help but realize as a young Brit, that you were living in a decaying museum – some horrifying mixture of Eastern European grimness surrounded by the sculptured bric-a-brac of statues and buildings and edifices that spoke of an empire on which the sun had once never set. Now, in contrast, we lived on the dark side of the moon and it was made up of damp, slowly degrading concrete. …
She was, in that sense, a liberator. She didn’t constantly (or even ever) argue for women’s equality; she just lived it. She didn’t just usher in greater economic freedom; she unwittingly brought with it cultural transformation – because there is nothing more culturally disruptive than individualism and capitalism. Her 1940s values never re-took: the Brits engaged in spending and borrowing binges long after she had left the scene, and what last vestiges of prudery were left in the dust.
Perhaps in future years, her legacy might be better seen as a last, sane defense of the nation-state as the least worst political unit in human civilization. Her deep suspicion of the European project was rooted in memories of the Blitz, but it was also prescient and wise. Without her, it is doubtful the British would have kept their currency and their independence. They would have German financiers going over the budget in Whitehall by now, as they are in Greece and Portugal and Cyprus. She did not therefore only resuscitate economic freedom in Britain, she kept Britain itself free as an independent nation. Neither achievement was inevitable; in fact, each was a function of a single woman’s will-power. To have achieved both makes her easily the greatest 20th century prime minister after Churchill.
He saved Britain from darkness; she finally saw the lights come back on. And like Churchill, it’s hard to imagine any other figure quite having the character, the will-power and the grit to have pulled it off.