Thank goodness there are some level-headed folks out there. Here‘s Freddy on the main blog on the effort to compare Palin to Thatcher:
For a start, Thatcher was an exceptionally intelligent woman; Palin, for all her canny snark and tough-gal know-how, is not. If you think that is an elitist view, then you are wrong and perhaps stupid.
What can be said for Palin is that she is reputedly very diligent and a quick study, so I am inclined to think that she is probably not intellectually lazy and incurious as, say, Mr. Bush is, but that doesn’t invalidate Freddy’s observation. More important, however, are these points:
Maggie T was not plucked from obscurity by a party establishment eager to play personality politics; she had to fight her way through often hostile Tory ranks. Unlike Plain, she achieved in spite of her sex, not because of it.
Palin’s appeal is almost the antithesis of Thatcher’s. The amazing thing about Thatcher was that she was never really popular — she was viciously hated by the working-classes — yet she still won elections. Her success was based on a personal strength, a certain philosophy of government, and perhaps a degree fearsomeness. Palin’s is founded on her class, family, lipstick, and puerile class baiting (it’s too cheap to be called class warfare).
Unfortunately, the intellectual laziness that allows people to identify Palin with Thatcher (they’re both women, and they’re high up in center-right parties!) is the same one that allowed so many Republicans to identify Bush with Reagan. If Bush was attacked for not being curious or knowledgeable, Republicans made this a badge of honor because Reagan had been attacked in similar ways. The difference was that the criticism of Bush was accurate, and it was largely not accurate when applied to Reagan. When most sane people reacted with a mixture of horror and laughter to Bush’s “axis of evil” remarks, Republicans took this not as a sign of the stupidity of the idea, but as a vindication of the “Reaganesque” quality of Bush’s warmongering because Reagan’s rhetoric had once provoked similar reactions. Never mind that the geopolitical circumstances and the underlying policies being offered were radically different–they both said something was evil, so they are alike!
In fact, if you wanted a comparative example of a female politician on the right promoted not primarily on merit, the European name to spring to mind is Angela Merkel. She was placed in Kohl’s cabinet because she was an Ossi, and perhaps partly because she was a woman, as a gesture to the East Germans after unification. Merkel then became Kohl’s favorite and became leader of the CDU after he resigned. The comparison isn’t perfect–she spent a lot more time in the federal government before rising to a comparably high leadership position–but it is much more appropriate than comparing her with Lady Thatcher. Perhaps there are Merkel admirers who would find this comparison flattering, but I’m not sure that it really is.
P.S. Clark has also failed to swoon.