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Hitchens’ Ode to Thatcher

Peter Hitchens has written a thoughtful reflection [1] on the news of Margaret Thatcher’s passing:

That’s why, even though I don’t share the adulation that so many do, and even though I think that Lady Thatcher’s long-term legacy will be smaller than many claim, I’ll always back her against the silly critics who could never see the whole woman, nor give her any credit for anything, or grasp just how extraordinary and exceptional her rise had been, from her quiet home and first beginnings.

Hitchens’ reflection is a fair and unsentimental one, and in his way he pays Thatcher a much greater compliment by acknowledging how impressive she was without having to resort to the excessive, idolatrous praise that so many people feel the need to offer to departed political leaders. He has written here [2] at TAC and elsewhere describing how Thatcher’s successes have been exaggerated and oversold, which makes these remarks so much more meaningful than if they had been written by one of her cheerleaders. Here’s Hitchens again:

I was lucky enough to travel, crammed into the seats at the very back of her majestic, obsolete and noisy RAF VC-10, on several of her foreign trips, and she was generous with her time on those journeys, sometimes too generous as she loved discussing foreign policy but seldom provided any news, let alone gossip. You couldn’t help being impressed by her. She always knew what she was talking about. If she didn’t know a subject, she studied it until she did. She wasn’t going to be bested, or shown up by anyone.

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4 Comments To "Hitchens’ Ode to Thatcher"

#1 Comment By Gordon Hanson On April 8, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

The final four lines of the second quote from Peter Hitchens could also describe a certain Mr. Daniel Larison.

#2 Comment By occam On April 9, 2013 @ 10:48 am

“She always knew what she was talking about. If she didn’t know a subject, she studied it until she did. She wasn’t going to be bested, or shown up by anyone. “

Not to denigrate the humanities, and she’d shown plenty of resolution and assertiveness before taking a second-class chemistry degree from Oxford, but I think Thatcher benefited from the rigor of scientific training, having the intellectual confidence that accrues to someone who has passed difficult mental tests in a “reality-based” discipline.

It is interesting and perhaps instructive that Angela Merkel also had a rigorous scientific training, (a doctorate in chemistry, no less). She bids fair to be as politically long-lived as Thatcher and perhaps as important a figure in world affairs.

Depressingly, our own strong suit in prominent political women with intellectual pretensions runs to former radicals turned corporate lawyers.

#3 Comment By Jason On April 9, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

I thought the most interesting part of his quotes was when Hitchens says he thinks her legacy will be smaller than many claim.

I’m a younger guy so I have no memories of Thatcher while she was in power. I need to read up on her. I profile Republicans for my blog so I would to read some books on her. Any recommendations?

Was Thatcher more conservative than the current conservatives in England?


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#4 Comment By Peter Hitchens On April 17, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

For Jason: John Campbell’s biography is the best currently available. Unsympathetic but fair, and beautifully written