The Wall Street Journal
April 18, 2013
By Peggy Noonan
The funeral of Margaret Thatcher was beautiful, moving, just right. It had dignity and spirit, and in that respect was just like her. It also contained a surprise that shouldn’t have been a surprise. It was a metaphor for where she stood in the pantheon of successful leaders of the 20th century.
The Right Honourable The Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, LG, OM, FRS—so she was called on the front page of the service program—was a great lady, and the greatest peacetime prime minister of England in the 20th century. She unleashed her nation’s economy, defeated selfish bullies who before her had always emerged victorious, and stood with the pope and the president against Soviet communism. The main project of her career was to advance the cause of human freedom and individual liberty. As David Cameron’s education minister, Michael Gove, noted the other day, she saw economics not as a science but as one of the humanities. It wasn’t about “immutable laws,” it was about “the instincts and values” of human beings, their sense of justice and rightness. She was eloquent, stirring and had tons of guts. And of course she was a woman, the first British prime minister to be so. She made no special pleading in that area and did not claim to represent what we embarrassingly call women’s issues. She was representing England and the issues British citizens faced. She did not ignore her sex and occasionally bopped political men on the head with small, bracing recognitions of their frailty. “The cocks will crow, but it’s the hen that lays the eggs,” she said. She noted that if you want anything said get a man but, if you want something done get a woman. All this she uttered in a proud but mock-stern tone. She was no victim. An oddity of her career is that she was routinely patronized by her inferiors. It seems to have steeled her.