George Will’s ‘mythological Maggie’ conservative triumphalism debunked

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Margaret_thatcherWhen I heard of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's death yesterday, I just knew the conservative media entertainment complex and the corporate "lamestream" media which follows their lead would engage in yet another round of Saint Ronnie Reagan mythology, costarring the "Iron Lady" in a bit player role with her own mythology. The pathetic American media did not disappoint me. (The British media was far more objective in its assessment of Margaret Thatcher's legacy, and did not use her death as an excuse for another round of Saint Ronnie Reagan mythology).

[Graphic from the Spitting Image political satire show, Spitting Image Series 8 DVD out now – Margaret Thatcher – YouTube.]

I was going to let it go, but then our sad small town newspaper the Arizona Daily Star just had to go and republish the "patrician prevaricator," George Will, with the most ignorant piece of revisionist history I have read since, well, George Will's last column.

The Star recaptioned Will's opinion Thatcher transformed Britain, helped bury socialism, which in all fairness, is taken from Will's opinion originally captioned in the Washington Post as Margaret Thatcher’s vigorous virtues. "Bury socialism"? Seriously?

The best response to George Will's "mythological Maggie" conservative triumphalism came from MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, who proudly claims to be a socialist, in this segment on Monday night. Transcript, Monday, April 8:

O`DONNELL: What is a British conservative? A British conservative is

way more liberal than an American liberal. But American conservatives

don`t know that, which explains a lot about what they love about Margaret

Thatcher, who was a British conservative, which is to say a British

socialist. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, the death of socialism in the

United Kingdom. Today in his farewell to Margaret Thatcher, conservative

columnist George Will said she "helped bury socialism as a doctrine of

governance." Today, it was hard to tell who Republicans loved more, Ronald

Reagan or Margaret Thatcher. It is also hard to tell which of them

Republicans mythologize more.

Today`s fond Republican memories of Margaret Thatcher were as much

mythology as reality. Republicans falsely credit Reagan and Thatcher which

bringing down the Soviet Union when they did no such thing. The Soviet

Union collapsed from within. To believe that the Soviet Union would be

thriving today were it not for Reagan and Thatcher is to believe that

communism is a good idea, that communism works. In fact, imperialistic

dictatorial communism collapsed of its own horrible weight.

It simply could not survive in a modern world where the dynamism of

capitalism and freedom is necessary in every economy, as is, by the way,

some socialism, as Margaret Thatcher well understood. It is not as if no

one knew that the Soviet Union was going to collapse. Well, it`s actually

as if only one person knew. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan predicted in

1979 that the Soviet Union would collapse. The Soviet Union`s horribly run

economy couldn`t possibly provide for the people of the many different

countries who were thrown together against their will under the thinly

stretched banner of the imperialistic Soviet Union.

And as mentioned, the other false credit Margaret Thatcher gets is for

killing socialism and burying it, as George Will said. What do you call a

socialist who gets rid of bad socialism and keeps good socialism, like I

would? I call that person a good socialist, like Margaret Thatcher.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET THATCHER, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The principle that

adequate health care should be provided for all regardless of ability to

pay must be the foundation of any arrangement for financing the health

service. We stand by that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ah, there`s Margaret Thatcher voicing her unyielding

support for socialism in Britain`s health care sector. Now, as I`ve said

before on this program, there`s good socialism and bad socialism, just as

there`s good capitalism and bad capitalism. And what we should always be

trying to do is use good socialism where necessary and good capitalism

where necessary, which is all Margaret Thatcher tried to do. She saw that

it would be better for British Airways to be run as a private company

instead of run by the government.

But she did not think health care should be left to the vicissitudes

of capitalism. Or there wasn`t a large enough role for socialism to play

in housing, for example, in Britain. She was in favor of that. Nor did

she seek to abolish the government funded pension system for all, their

form of Social Security, which like ours is a socialist program. She

actually boasted about spending more on socialism than the Labor Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THATCHER: For every one pound Labor spends on the National Health

Service, this government has spent three.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: She also bragged about spending more on the Social

Security system.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THATCHER: Next month, the old age pension will go up by 11 percent.

And that despite the worst recession since the 1930s.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Now each of those things are beyond the pale for our

Republicans who loved Margaret Thatcher so much, as is, of course,

extending unemployment insurance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THATCHER: The world recession has brought high unemployment to almost

every country. Again and again, Tory governments took the lead in

extending unemployment insurance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And Republicans who today are trying to cut funding for

the disabled in Social Security would be horrified by what Margaret

Thatcher did on spending for the disabled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THATCHER: Spending on people who are sick and disabled has very

nearly doubled under this government again after allowing for inflation.

This October, we gave extra help to the 2.5 million pensioners who need it

most. And we also abolished the earnings law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Of course, Sarah Palin`s handlers did not tell her about

any of this before they wrote a statement for her praising Margaret

Thatcher, and posted it on Facebook. She was at least a tax cutter, I`ll

say that for Margaret Thatcher, but not the kind of tax cutter a Republican

in this country could ever vote for. She cut the top income tax rate

bracket from 83 percent to 60 percent. You see, British conservatives like

Thatcher are way to the left of American liberals.

There is no American liberal who would advocate a 60 percent top

income tax rate. In her last year, she did manage to get the top income

tax rate down to 40 percent, only in her last year, which is still higher

than Barack Obama`s top income tax rate of 39.6 percent. And yeah, those

two tax rates are close, but hey, higher is higher, and all the Margaret

Thatcher worshippers out there tonight wouldn`t be screaming — squirming

right now if they had the lower tax rate, if the Thatcher tax rate didn`t

end at a spot above the Obama top tax rate and the Clinton top tax rate.

But she didn`t do that. She didn`t get the tax rates lower because

she wasn`t conservative enough. I repeat, get this, British conservatives

aren`t as conservative as American conservatives, and British conservatives

are more liberal than American liberals. Margaret Thatcher left office

with the lowest bracket, the lowest income tax bracket, at 25 percent,

where today`s Republicans want the highest income tax bracket to be. She

also doubled the British sales tax, the value added tax. She doubled it to

15 percent, a tax that dramatically increases the costs of everything you

buy in that country.

That is a sharply regressive tax, but it is still a tax, a tax used to

fund social programs. And Margaret Thatcher doubled that tax. And yet she

is still loved by American Republicans who are ignorant of every single

thing I have told you so far. When Thatcher came into office, taxes as a

share of GDP were 33 percent. When Thatcher left office, that was 35

percent. Grover Norquist and all of the Republican worshippers of Margaret

Thatcher are outraged today that we are averaging 18 percent. Those

Republicans insist that it is outrageous in this country for taxes to be 18

percent of our GDP, which is about half of what they were under Margaret

Thatcher. Half!

Barack Obama is half the taxer that Margaret Thatcher was, half the

socialist that Margaret Thatcher was. President Obama has not dared

propose a health care program as purely socialistic and complete as

Margaret Thatcher`s completely socialistic health care system, the one she

supported and bragged about. But Republicans call Barack Obama a socialist

as if it is an epithet, and they call Margaret Thatcher a hero.

Ignorance is the first requirement for Republicans adoration of

Margaret Thatcher. Sarah Palin and most Republican presidential candidates

would be horrified to discover that Margaret Thatcher actually believed in

evolution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THATCHER: I began with Charles Darwin and his work on the theory of

evolution of "the Origin of Species." Darwin`s voyages were among the high

points of scientific discovery. The beliefs of Darwin`s era should help to

see us through, the belief in reason and the scientific method.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And every elected Republican in Washington would refuse to

applaud if they heard Margaret Thatcher say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THATCHER: It is mankind and his activities which are changing the

environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways. The problem of

global climate change is one that effects us all, and actually will only be

effective if it is taken at the international level.

It is no good squabbling over who is responsible and who should pay.

Each country has to contribute. Those countries who are industrialized

must contribute more to help those who are not. These protocols must be

binding and there must be effective regimes to supervise and monitor their

application.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Thatcher was horribly conservative and horribly wrong

about some things, and I do mean horribly. She supported Apartheid in

South Africa, and regarded Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress

as terrorists, and she was sharply anti-gay rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THATCHER: Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral

values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Margaret Thatcher the socialist, is gone, but Margaret

Thatcher the socialist was forgotten long before she was gone.

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