Reagan and Thatcher: The Dynamic Duo
Some readers may find this hard to believe: But some politicians say one thing in public about the people with whom they deal and then say something else in private. Not so former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
In the recently released, The Reagan Diaries, (edited by Douglas Brinkley), President Reagan, following virtually every transatlantic phone call or face-to-face meeting with Margaret Thatcher, recorded his impressions. In his most private, almost daily, writings, President Reagan expressed his appreciation for her stalwart defense of capitalism and freedom. He admired her as a politician and as a person.
In her autobiography, The Downing Street Years, Mrs. Thatcher comments on her phone calls and meetings with President Reagan. Her admiration for him was unbounded. She, the daughter of a corner grocer, and he, the son of an alcoholic shoe salesman, rose to great power. Amazing how two folks with humble beginnings restored their nationsí ailing economies and brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In 1993, Lady Thatcher dedicated The Downing Street Years to her husband, Denis, without whom she says she would never have become Great Britainís Prime Minister. Indeed, many of us (who are married to women smarter than we are), claim membership in the Denis Thatcher Society. For his part, President Reagan wrote sorrowfully about each time Nancy Reagan had to be away from the White House tending to her duties as First Lady or to her ailing mother.
Contrary to the Sinistra Media, The Reagan Diaries reveal President Reagan was very much involved with the lives of his children and that he and the First Lady often attended church somewhere or, even more often, had some religious figure come to the White House for private religious observances. One of Reaganís beliefs was that his attendance (plus the Secret Service) at the churches around Washington distracted the other worshipers from their, well, worship.
Do The Reagan Diaries reveal that he loved one child more than another? Maureen, his daughter with Sarah Jane Fulks (AKA Jane Wyman), shared his conservatism. Mermie, as he called her, gets the most frequent mentions and stayed often in the Reagan White House. Michael, adopted while Reagan was married to Jane Wyman, receives increasingly favorable mentions in Reaganís later years.
But Ron and Patti, the offspring of his marriage with Nancy, are often mentioned in the context of problems they are causing. Neither could stand Secret Service protection. They threw so many tantrums; the President pleased them and the Secret Service by ending their protection.
Due, no doubt, to the Reaganís many Hollywood friends, he, more than any U.S. President, devoted a great deal of effort and tax-payer funding to programs dealing with AIDS. Even so, young Ron would take Sinistra Media opportunities to denounce his father for ďnot doing enough.Ē
Patti, who had drug problems, became an advocate of the nuclear-freeze movement. President Reagan indulged her by letting her bring the leading advocates of the nuclear-freeze movement to the White House for private sessions with him.
For some reason, neither Patti nor her friends could understand that her father wasnít interested in merely freezing the level of nuclear weapons around the world. Instead, he wanted, first, to reduce the level of nuclear weapons and, secondly, to eliminate them altogether.
Nor could they understand how President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher were calling the Soviet Unionís bluff by the forward deployment of nuclear weapons systems the USSR would have to go broke to match. The USSR not only went broke, it collapsed -- freeing millions.
President Reagan destroyed the nuclear-freeze movement by his more far-reaching proposals and actions. Of course, the nuclear-freeze advocates hated him for making their entire movement irrelevant. After Alzheimerís disease destroyed his mind, Patti may have figured out what her father and Prime Minister Thatcher had done so magnificently.
Too bad he could not have known that.
Syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, William Hamilton, is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a former research fellow at the U.S. Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College. Writing as William Penn, he and his wife are the co-authors of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy Ė two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2007. William Hamilton.