The death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, so closely linked with her friend and fellow conservative, the late President Ronald Reagan, is a reminder that the two leaders shared more than a common political philosophy. Thatcher and Reagan both knew the value of theater in politics, and their skills at commanding a stage have rarely been matched since they departed from public life.
Thatcher will also be remembered as the first woman to lead a Western power. Although the idea now seems quaint, skeptics wondered before Thatcher if any woman could handle such a job. Thatcher proved comfortable — and masterful — at the helm of her country, leading many Americans to conclude that a female president of the United States might not be such a bad thing. No woman has risen to the American presidency just yet, but thanks to Thatcher, that prospect seems possible.
Thatcher didn’t like to focus on her gender in leading England, and she steered clear of identifying herself with anything that might be construed as a “women’s agenda.” But she wasn’t above making some sharp observation about the benefit of being a member of the fairer sex.
“If you want something said, ask a man,” she famously declared. “If you want something done, ask a woman.”
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