Can one measure the impact of a figure by the attention given at their passing? If so, then Margaret Thatcher’s place as one of the most significant figures in the latter half of the 20th century seems secure. Leaders from around the world — with a glaring exception — traveled to pay their last respects to the Iron Lady, whose 11-year term as Prime Minister of the UK transformed its economy, its world standing, and eventually the continent of Europe. Two thousand mourners squeezed into St. Paul’s Cathedral, and as CBS News notes, security was a heightened concern, especially for the procession afterward, but it went without incident:
The protestors got a lot of press today, but the report from CBS News seems to indicate that they were a fringe element, petty and insignificant. The Times of London was left similarly unimpressed. Thatcher triumphed over her critics in life, and now she has done so in death as well.
Andrew Malcolm reminds of who didn’t bother to honor that legacy:
But Obama trumped himself this week by declining to send any representative of his administration to the funeral of free-market advocate Thatcher. The Chicago Democrat appointed instead two former secretaries of State in Republican administrations–James Baker and George Schultz–and a staffer from the embassy in London.
As our editorial page colleagues here pointed out, that’s a lower-level delegation to our closest European ally than the group Obama dispatched to last month’s funeral of anti-American demagogue Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Hmm.
Clearly, Obama has no time for such respectful things himself. He’s set a strategy dinner tonight with Democrat senators.
Normally, for a funeral of someone with Thatcher’s historical and diplomatic stature, an American administration would send at least a vice president, even a dufus like Joe Biden.
Of course, Joe might let go with one of his Pakistani jokes. And anyway the vice president’s schedule today is heavily-burdened. He’s scheduled to participate in an online Google+ Hangout.
Did they tell Biden that he can do that from London? The Intertubez have a pipe on the ocean floor, with a long string for talking about shotguns and warning shots with his fellow Americans.
CNN invited historian Kate Williams to offer her thoughts on Thatcher, in which she explains that Thatcher kinda-sorta feminized the British economy, in a segment that strains credulity. She finishes by comparing Thatcher to Henry VIII’s religious rebellion:
Well, she’s correct only if (a) we think of the socialiam in which the UK was mired pre-Thatcher as somehow “masculine,” and (b) the socialism with which Thatcher broke was a religion. I’m actually pretty comfortable with (b) in that sense.
NBC’s Today does a better job of giving a straightforward report:
There are many VIPs at the event, but from the US … only Republicans. Imagine that.