Baroness Thatcher is suffering from dementia, according to her daughter, Carol. Writing in the Daily Mail more than a year and a half ago, Carol Thatcher chronicled her mother's decline: "On bad days, she could hardly remember the beginning of a sentence by the time she got to the end.'' For a woman of Thatcher's formidable intellect and unflagging energy, it's a sad decline. For Palin's camp to use her as a human prop, as in a photo op, it's unforgivable.
For one thing, Thatcher was never about female solidarity. For another, she did not suffer fools gladly; her exacting impatience with anyone not up to snuff was legendary. And what the woman who fought to become prime minister and fought harder to stay there might have said of a governor who walked away from her elected office can be vividly and acidly imagined.
Whoever agreed to this photo-op should rescind it. Claire Berlinski makes the obvious point about the vast differences between Palin and Thatcher:
If Palin hopes to style herself as the second coming she has a few things to learn. She might wish to study Thatcher's disciplined command of arguments, facts and statistics, for instance. By the time Thatcher was elected, she'd enjoyed a 20-year parliamentary career. Her clearly expressed views – clearly expressed, I stress – about every crisis, problem and debate of concern to Britain were a matter of public record. Palin has neither said nor written a line so far that would allow anyone reasonably to conclude that her opinions about economic and foreign policy are as cogent and informed as Thatcher's. No one (not me, anyway) can argue with her conservative instincts, but to compare her ability to express them with Thatcher's would be ludicrous.
This ability allowed Thatcher to dominate in unscripted interviews. When interrogated by hostile journalists she left them speechless and stuttering. She regularly ate Neil Kinnock for lunch during prime minister's questions. Her eidetic command of inflation statistics verged on the weird, suggesting the obsessive aspect of men who routinely memorise train schedules.
Berlinski notes how Thatcher shrewdly used her femininity to foil male pols. But that's vastly different from the kind of victimology Palin engages in. But the core point is surely this: Using an elderly woman with dementia to advance your own celebrity and political clout is as disgusting as using an infant with Down Syndrome. It's a form of abuse. Please, don't let her get away with this.