Today, a towering giant among leaders passed away. Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister who led her country for eleven years died at the age of 87. She was the only woman ever to lead Great Britain’s government.
Thatcher was unshakable. Many say that her “clarity of mind unequalled in a politician since Winston Churchill changed the face of Britain and, to some degree, the world.”
When I saw the coverage of her death early this morning, I was immediately swept up in deep sorrow. The first images on the television screen were of a frail woman being helped out the door of her home by her lifetime housekeeper Kate.
That unsettling image brought to mind the utter grief on Mrs. Thatcher’s face when she gently touched the flag that draped President Reagan’s coffin as it lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
The bitter irony is that in her pre-recorded eulogy of Reagan she said, "For the final years of his life, Ronnie's mind was clouded by illness. That cloud has now lifted. He is himself again—more himself than at any time on this earth. For we may be sure that the Big Fella Upstairs never forgets those who remember Him.”
"And as the last journey of this faithful pilgrim took him beyond the sunset, and as heaven's morning broke, I like to think—in the words of Bunyan—that all the trumpets sounded on the other side.”
"We here still move in twilight. But we have one beacon to guide us that Ronald Reagan never had."
"We have his example. Let us give thanks today for a life that achieved so much for all of God's children."
I think it is fitting to say that her razor-sharp intellect and powerhouse memory have now been returned to her. The cloud has been lifted. She is herself again.
Requiescat in pace, Mrs. Thatcher. Godspeed. Your dear friend Ronnie awaits you in Heaven.
Richard Fernandez puts a fine point on this day:
“She passes in an uncertain hour, the story of her life and times a pointed reminder of how far we have fallen from those days. Yet if we understand her life aright, the principal lesson is that the ordinary is extraordinary. The world is not made by the Great and the Good. Rather it is made by ordinary folk striving to be better. Therefore the greatest aspiration of a statesman was to represent what we were—and still could be.”
Daniel Greenfield eloquently pays homage to Thatcher and Reagan:
“Thatcher and Reagan convinced millions that they were fighting for the good life. And they delivered. The damning sin that the left cannot forgive them for is that their policies, at home and abroad, succeeded more often than they failed. But they didn't convince with mere empty words, with the same tired slogans that stood for nothing and opposed nothing and advocated nothing. They did not skulk in on the heels of consultants who made them seem as nonthreatening as possible. Instead they made it clear that they were here to fight against the forces of decay, the ideologies of terror and the sense of morality that to every great nation in the hour of its decline.”
“Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan are dead now, but in life they won a victory over the seeming deaths of their nations. They came in the hour of twilight and they stepped down with the sunrise. Their victories were temporary but they showed that leaders can stand against decline and breathe new life when most of the experts believe that all is lost and that we must learn to accept that. They showed us that with conviction and courage we can resist the inevitable.”