1.21.2007

Clinton's Tough but She's No Margaret Thatcher

In The Lady Wants The White House, Times Online today examines Hillary's quest for the the presidency in '08. It points out that Hillary seeks to present herself as the American version of Margaret Thatcher.

That'll be interesting to watch. There's no doubt that Clinton is tough--REAL TOUGH--but she's no Margaret Thatcher. She's really more like her idol: Eleanor Roosevelt type

Margaret Thatcher's toughness worked politically because she, like Ronald Reagan, believed in the supremacy of the Anglo-American approach to capitalism and democracy. They were supremely confident in the future because they believed that the Anglo-American way was by far superior. They were tough because they were unfailingly optimistic in their pursuit.

But how wearable is toughness devoid of optimism? And how can you be optimistic if you're not sold on America's basic principles? Hillary is a deconstructionist by nature; she wants to tearing down in order to rebuild based on new values. Margaret Thatcher was a conservative; she believed that what would Britain great again was to embrace it's very Britishness and return to its core beliefs.

For example, Margaret Thatcher sought to fix Britain's ailing health care system by returning to individual choice and market-based accountability. Hillary sought to fix health care in America by adopting a France-styled socialized system. Very different philosophies and, therefore, very different political approaches are required. Thatcher started with conservative leaning "middle" England with her; while Hillary starts with the support of "progressive" left.

I do believe that voters--men and women--would go for an American version of Margaret Thatcher. That's why Condoleezza Rice gets such positive reviews. But there's no one running that's a Margaret Thatcher type politician. Actually, the person closest isn't even a woman--it's Rudy Giuliani.

A point in the article that I have no argument with was in the use of the phrase "the Magic versus the Machine” to refer to Barack Obama (the Magic) versus Hillary (the Machine). That seems to me to be right. The good news for Hillary supporters is that the magical candidate almost never wins. Almost always the victor is the candidate with the more formidable organization, the establishment candidate and the candidate that's more "machine-like" in their pursuit.