Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reflections on the Iron Lady

We saw The Iron Lady Sunday before the Golden Globes. Meryl Streep’s performance was truly a tour d’force, as one has come to expect from the great actress. Harvey Weinstein for the second year in a row has a success based on Great Britain. Last year’s was The King’s Speech.

One review had it totally right though. It’s sad to see a movie on the great Prime Minister looking at her from the perspective of her current dementia. It would be just as wrong to review President Reagan’s life from the perspective of his dementia. Their greatness should not be eclipsed by their unfortunate age related illness. But it is; and that wasn’t an accident.

So much for the movie; let’s talk about Lady Thatcher herself.

The once despised PM is now rated by the British as their best Prime Minister in the past 30 years. She should join Winston Churchill as the two greatest British prime ministers of the 20th century. The country has a history of great leaders, in which they justly hold their own.

Churchill saved Great Britain’s independence and Thatcher England’s economy.

Both became Prime Minister in times of great peril. Hitler was poised to conquer England, and the unions were destroying the Thatcher's Great Britain. History tells us today that a number of England's leaders were willing to seek peace with Hitler.

Churchill and Thatcher rallied the English people through their strength of will.

Thatcher’s problem was partially the mess created by Labour when it assumed power after World War II and nationalized industry, especially heavy industry. Her solution was to close down unprofitable mines, privatize the public businesses, and bust the unions - all at a time of rising inflation and unemployment. She had the “silent majority” of the British people behind her. They had enough of the union thuggery.

The economic medicine was severe. Unemployment rose to 3 million, but the economy turned around. The unions fought every inch of the way, throwing strike after strike at public services. The Iron Lady, so named by the Russians, did not give an inch.

She won, England won; the unions lost. She broke them. They never regained their
power, not even under a subsequent Labour government. She had the cajones many of the male politicians lacked.

The middle class daughter of a grocer fought for everything she achieved. The first, and still only, woman PM of England did not achieve success by birth or inheritance.

She fought for it. Neither the unions, an Argentine Junta, Saddam Hussein ("Don’t go wobbly, George") or European socialists would cower her. Appeasement neither suited her nor Churchill.

Here’s the question. Who is today's America’s Iron Lady or Ronald Reagan?

The public employee unions, as represented by their actions in Wisconsin, and control over the California political system, are bankrupting states and local government.

Who will take them on?

It’s certainly not President Obama or Governor Jerry Brown of California.

Governor Romney seems eager to veer his views with the winds. We saw that earlier with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Governors Christie, Kasich, Palin, and Walker aren’t running.

Who will be America’s Margaret Thatcher?

It has to be either Speaker Gingrich or Senator Santorum.

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