Hillary and Chelsea Clinton have been making the rounds to promote their new joint project The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience (Simon & Schuster).
It’s Hillary and Chelsea’s book, and they have every right to include or omit whomever they please.
However, Hillary Clinton’s rationale for ignoring Margaret Thatcher—aka “The Iron Lady”—was telling. Thatcher was the first woman to be elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Thatcher was not only the first woman to capture England’s premiership, but she was the longest-serving PM of the twentieth century (1975-1990).
In other words, Lady Thatcher, the daughter of a greengrocer without political connections, broke a glass ceiling to head the government of her country.
So why wasn’t Thatcher among Hillary and Chelsea’s 100 “gutsy women”?
Interesting question, and it was put to Mrs. Clinton by BBC Radio Live host Emma Barnett. “Surely she comes to mind with gutsy women, even if you didn’t like her?” Barnett said.
Here (via the Indendent) is what she replied:
“She does, but she doesn’t fit the other part of the definition in our opinion, which is really knocking down barriers for others and trying to make a positive difference,” Clinton said. “I think the record is mixed with her.”
. . .
Clinton continued, adding that although she thought Thatcher was “incredibly strong” and that it was “clever of her to really try to mould herself to be more acceptable” in terms of hairstyle, speaking style, and clothing style, she did not fit the book’s criteria.
“I think on the criterion that we were really looking at: ‘Okay, what were the positive differences, the changes this person made that really opened the doors to more?’ That wasn’t really that apparent,” she explained.
The former presidential candidate’s comments regarding the former prime minister were met with shock and confusion on social media.
Margaret Thatcher, along with President Reagan and Pope John Paul II, was one of the three key figures behind the fall of the Soviet Union. She had the guts to deregulate and privatize a large swathe of the U.K.’s economy. These policies were unpopular at first but gutsy woman Thatcher steered a steady course and regained popularity when the economy improved as a result. This wasn't opening doors to more people, women included?
As for Thatcher’s “cleverness” with regards to style, she had the same helmet hairdo throughout her career. This was in marked contrast with Mrs. Clinton, who had a hair identity crisis every other week. Mrs. Thatcher adopted a no-nonsense style that allowed her to concentrate on what really mattered to her, winning the Cold War and getting Great Britain back on its feet economically after the disastrous Callaghan years.
There are numerous heroic women on the Clintons’ gutsy list. Nobody can deny, for example, Harriet Tubman and Malala Yousafzai, “looked fear in the face and persevered.” Still, it is revealing that the Clintons could not find a place for Thatcher in a list that included the likes of lefty Cambridge University classicist Mary Beard, an excellent writer, to be sure, but how gutsy do you have to be to hold forth with stylish opinions in the TLS? Greta Thunberg, the teenaged climate scold, who recently lectured the United Nations, also made the list.
We know Hillary Clinton’s story and her decidedly un-gutsy refusal to accept defeat in 2016. I looked at Chelsea’s bio on Amazon. It is filled with platitudes:
Chelsea Clinton has always been interested in making the world a better place. When she was a child in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of her favorite books was 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth, and as a teenager in Washington, D.C., she led her school's service club.
While at Stanford, Chelsea worked as a reading and writing tutor and volunteered at the Children's Hospital. Today, she is Vice Chair of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation where . . .
Clearly, a gutsy woman in training.
What I am wondering—and I am just asking—is how much guts would it have taken to put Margaret Thatcher on this predominantly PC list?