Pundits Wrestle With Thatcher Legacy

Pundits grapple with controversial legacy

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 8, 2013 12:09 PM CDT | Updated Apr 8, 2013 2:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Iron Lady is dead, and reactions are pouring in from pundits around the planet. Here's what people are saying:

  • David Weigel at Slate is predicting a "gulf of difference between American coverage, in which Thatcher will be remembered as a glass ceiling-shattering pal of Ronald Reagan; and British coverage, which will reflect how hated Thatcher was by her political foes." He notes that one Labour MP actually tweeted the phrase "Tramp the Dirt Down," a reference to an Elvis Costello song about how great Thatcher's death would be.

  • Sure enough, Slate colleague Lionel Shriver has a piece praising Thatcher as a "real feminist," who focused on actions, not words. "She did not pursue justice for her gender," but she definitely "wanted to live in a world in which girls were so unfettered that they could grow up to become prime ministers," and her success "continues to inspire young women to act on their own convictions."
  • The Economist, meanwhile, praises her politics. "The essence of Thatcherism was to oppose the status quo and bet on freedom—odd, since as a prim control freak, she was in some ways the embodiment of conservatism," it muses. "This is a crucial time to hang on to Margaret Thatcher’s central perception:" that people should "push back against the advance of the state."
  • "I grew up in a community where the utterance of her name could cleave a room in two," writes Tim Stanley at the Telegraph. But she was nonetheless a "great Briton" who "returned Britain to its former glory as a significant world power," and deserves respect.
  • Thatcher's critics are largely remaining silent—Labour leaders are urging MPs not to gloat—but Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian thinks this don't-speak-ill-of-the-dead stuff is "not just misguided but dangerous." This woman called Nelson Mandela and his party "terrorists," helped bring about the Gulf War, and backed up tyrants like Augusto Pinochet. "To demand that all of that be ignored in the face of one-sided requiems to her nobility and greatness is a bit bullying and tyrannical."
  • Nancy Reagan says Thatcher and her husband were "political soul mates," adds Politico. “Ronnie and I knew her as a dear and trusted friend, and I will miss her. The United States knew Margaret as a spirited and courageous ally, and the world owes her a debt of gratitude.”
  • Not enough reaction for you? Well CNN has a roundup of reaction from US leaders, most of them conservative, while the Daily Beast has some fascinating quotes from Meryl Streep on playing the Iron Lady. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, rounds up a list of notable Thatcherisms.

In this June 19, 2006 file photo, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher leaves St. George's Chapel in Windsor, near London.   (AP Photo/Tim Ockenden, Pool, File)
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