Peggy Noonan on Margaret Thatcher

Peggy Noonan had a very nice column about the Reagan funeral. I especially like the passages about Margaret Thatcher.

Walking into a room in the Capitol Wednesday before dusk: A handful of people were standing together and gazing out a huge old white-silled window as the Reagan cortege approached down Pennsylvania Avenue. The sun was strong, like a presence. It bathed the women in glow. One was standing straight, with discipline. Her beige bouffant was brilliant in the sun. I approached, and she turned. It was Margaret Thatcher. It was like walking into a room at FDR’s funeral and seeing Churchill.

The cortege was coming toward the steps. We looked out the window: a perfect tableaux of ceremonial excellence from every branch of the armed forces. Mrs. Thatcher watched. She turned and said to me, “This is the thing, you see, you must stay militarily strong, with an undeniable strength. The importance of this cannot be exaggerated.”

To my son, whose 17th birthday was the next day, she said, “And what do you study?” He tells her he loves history and literature. “Mathematics,” she says. He nods, wondering, I think, if she had heard him correctly. She had. She was giving him advice. “In the world of the future it will be mathematics that we need–the hard, specific knowledge of mathematical formulae, you see.” My son nodded: “Yes, ma’am.” Later I squeezed his arm. “Take notes,” I said. This is history.

Ms. Noonan concluded on this note.

Many great things were said about Reagan, especially the words of Baroness Thatcher, the Iron Lady. What a gallant woman to come from England, frail after a series of strokes, to show her personal respect and love, and to go to California to show it again, standing there with her perfect bearing, in her high heels, for 20 hours straight. I wonder if the British know how we took it, we Americans, that she did that, and that Prince Charles came, and Tony Blair. One is tempted to fall back on cliché–“the special relationship.” But I think a lot of us were thinking: We are one people.

Margaret Thatcher is loved by American Conservatives more than anyone in Britain will ever understand. She is bigger than life, a warrior goddess from the olden times. She and Reagan slew the communist dragon. Sic semper tyrannis.

9 thoughts on “Peggy Noonan on Margaret Thatcher”

  1. Rather disappointing that the Queen thought fit to give the funeral a miss. I believe she enjoys far better health than Baroness Thatcher.

    While I can appreciate that she and the President were not in any way ‘friends’, that she sent the ‘boy’ along, in her place would appear to be yet another of her refined ‘snubs’, to the United States.

    I could be reading too much into this, but as international events go, they do not come any bigger than the funeral of a President of our closest ally.

  2. I think what Lex is trying to say is: They sent the PM, the respected former PM and the future king. I doubt the UK would do that for any other country besides the U.S. That they did it for someone who left office fifteen years ago makes it even more special.

    BTW, who did the U.S. send to WSC’s funeral — does anyone know?

  3. Yeah, I meant what Jonathan said.

    Also, here is this incredibly nice piece and Ernest wants to get his knickers in a twist that the British dissed us because the Queen didn’t come! Who cares? Thatcher is enough for me. Blair, and the Prince of Wales could stay home as far as I’m concerned. There are probably all kinds of weird rules about what the Queen can do and dead former presidents might not be in her bailiwick. Who knows.

    Churchill’s funeral. Lots of people, as I recall … . Check this out — a hugely comprehensive thing about WSC’s funeral. I’m not finding the answer online. I look in the books downstairs, because now I’m wondering myself … .

  4. I find it interesting that Noonan would be pleased that Thatcher would recommend mathematics as a course of study. (I would make the same recommendation, I might add.) I just can’t see Reagan or any of our presidents since either making or following such a recommendation.

  5. I’m starting to tell the kids I know that you have 2 billion Chinese and Indians on your tail. Math and science. We will need math and science.

  6. Thatcher was a chemist by training, which I think means a pharmacist. She was always someone who pushed for practicality, against the old-time British and especially Tory tradition of political and bureaucratic leadership steeped in humanities who scorned scientific and technical knowledge.

    As to Presidents “before” Reagan, you forget Eisenhower. After Sputnik, the US Government strongly pushed math and science education, to good effect.

  7. “She and Reagan slew the communist dragon. Sic semper tyrannis.” And the Pope. Don’t forget His Holiness John Paul II, he was instrumental there. I remember very well that the Pope, Reagan, Mrs. Thatcher and Helmut Kohl worked all in a an extremely well coordinated effort to “bring the wall down” And they did. And as a Catholic and as a human being Freedom-lover, I love the four of them. God bless them.

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