Sarah Palin and Margaret Thatcher both hold iconic status in the hearts of conservatives. That the two are in the same league is not immediately obvious. One was Britain's first female prime minister from 1979 to 1990, a self-styled "Iron Lady" who is credited with helping to defeat communism. The other was born nearly half a century later in Sandpoint, Idaho; was part of a U.S. presidential ticket that went down in flames in 2008; and resigned as Alaska governor barely halfway through her term so she could switch to the lucrative media circuit.
Still, Palin—who may harbor hopes of a 2012 White House run—appears determined to connect herself to Thatcher. Via her Facebook page, she has confirmed British newspaper reports that she is in discussions to arrange an audience with one of her political heroines during a potential visit across the Atlantic. If so, she would follow in the footsteps of previous Republican presidential contenders, including Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and Mitt Romney, who have all stopped in for a cup of tea and a photo op.
The only catch? Thatcher, 86, suffers from dementia. On bad days, according to her daughter, Carol, she can hardly remember the beginning of a sentence by the time she gets to the end. As The Guardian's Martin Kettle observed delicately, "a Palin-Thatcher meeting has a sort of marketing inevitability, although the ignorance of the one and the infirmity of the other mean that two public figures with a shakier grip on what is going on the world would be hard to find."
Eager to explore how much Palin and Thatcher have in common, and in the spirit of good fun, we thought we'd contrast some of their most famous statements:
ON RUSSIA/SOVIET UNION
Thatcher: "I like Mr Gorbachev. We can do business together." —Interview with BBC television, Dec. 17, 1984
Palin: "As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where—where do they go? It's Alaska." —Interview with CBS's Katie Couric, Sept. 24, 2008
ON SHOWING RESOLVE IN POLITICS
Thatcher: "This lady is not for turning." —To doubters at the Conservative Party conference, Oct. 10, 1980
Palin: "elected is replaceable; Ak WILL progress! + side benefits=10 dys til less politically correct twitters fly frm my fingertps outside State site." —Tweet following her surprise resignation as Alaska governor, July 17, 2009
ON BEING PREPARED
Thatcher: "It is always important in matters of high politics to know what you do not know. Those who think they know, but are mistaken, and act upon their mistakes, are the most dangerous people to have in charge." —From her book Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World, 2002, page 104
Palin: "I answered [John McCain] yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on reform of this country and victory in the war you can't blink. So I didn't blink then, even when asked to run as his running mate." —Interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson, Sept. 11, 2008
ON POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Thatcher: "I would just like to remember some words of Saint Francis of Assisi which I think are really just particularly apt at the moment. Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope." —On winning the 1979 general election, May 4, 1979
Palin: "How's that hopey-changey stuff workin'+ out for ya? —Addressing the Tea Party convention, Feb. 6, 2010
Thatcher: "Europe in anything other than the geographical sense is a wholly artificial construct. It makes no sense at all to lump together Beethoven and Debussy, Voltaire and Burke, Vermeer and Picasso, Notre Dame and St Paulas, boiled beef and bouillabaisse, and portray them as elements of a Europeana musical, philosophical, artistic, architectural or gastronomic reality. If Europe charms us, as it has so often charmed me, it is precisely because of its contrasts and contradictions, not its coherence and continuity." —From Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World, 2002, page 328
Palin: "You've added a lot of energy to your country with that beautiful family of yours." —To a Canadian radio prankster who tricked her into believing he was French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Nov. 1, 2008
ON THEIR RESPECTIVE 'FIRST DUDES'
Thatcher: "I could never have been prime minister for more than 11 years without Denis by my side." —From her autobiography, The Path to Power, 1995
Palin: "Divorce Todd? Have you seen Todd? I may be just a renegade hockey mum, but I'm not blind!" —Rebutting rumors, Aug. 2, 2009
ON LEADERSHIP STYLE
Thatcher: "What Britain needs is an iron lady." —Citing the moniker given her by the Soviet newspaper Red Star
Palin: "Thank you so much for showin' up! First stop on the tour. There's just something about Michigan. I couldn't wait to get back to Michigan. Alaska and Michigan have so much in common, with the huntin' and the fishin' and the hockey moms." —Day one of the Going Rogue book tour, Nov. 16, 2009