One of my favorite true conservatives, Bruce Bartlett wrote a column a few weeks ago about former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which he re-ran Thursday in response to comments Michele Bachmann made comparing herself to the legendary conservative Thatcher.
In the third paragraph, Bartlett writes that Sarah Palin's requested meeting with Thatcher fell through because of Thatcher's physical condition (she suffers from dementia). Well, this is one place he was wrong. It fell through because those who take care of Mrs. Thatcher didn't want an attention whore like Palin creating an unrealistic photo-op, as if there's some relationship between the two women.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times in June, a Thatcher ally said that she would not meet Palin because "that would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts." Now, of course, a more official response was made by another Thatcher ally, who said her failing health was the primary issue.
Well, Bartlett may choose whichever response he likes, but I like the more unguarded version and always tend to believe those sorts of outbursts are more truthful (and more delicious!).
Now, as for the Bartlett piece as a whole, it brilliantly highlights just how far from the conservative examples of Thatcher and Reagan today's GOP have strayed. As Bartlett quotes Martin Wolf, a columnist for The Financial Times, Thatcher was "far more concerned about fiscal stability and deficit reduction than lower taxes, and the idea that a debt default 'would have been sensible would, to her, have been insane.'" Nice little stab in the GOP throat there.
As Dennis Miller used to say (when he was funny), "Now I don't wanna go off on a rant here," but the thing that still amazes me about politicians of all stripes is that there's this collective denial (or willful ignorance, or both) that in this age of the internet, we can't immediately call up things a politician once said or wrote that completely contradicts something they're saying today. It's the sort of thing that Jon Stewart has built a career on -- uncovering and roasting the unabashed hypocrisy, the bald-face lying, that goes on in the name of keeping citizens informed about what's going on in this country and around the world. Depressingly, we Americans take it in but don't process it, don't form opinions that mean anything to us. Instead we retreat to our favorite media outlets to find out what they're saying about it and then parrot it with enough passion to convince themselves that it's their opinion too. There's no sincerity, no effort, and no real intelligence. To me, true intelligence is looking at all sides of an argument and synthesizing something that speaks to you and about you. We are none of us all one thing. Dick Cheney has no problem with gay marriage, but Barack Obama does. My rabbi, who is progressive in many, many ways, gets fairly militant and right-ish when it comes to Israel. I struggle with a lot of what I read on liberal blogs, such as the way Glenn Greenwald continually faults the president as a failure on every progressive yardstick imaginable. Of course, anyone who reads this blog (and I know there are at least three of you) knows that there's one place where I have no doubt: excoriating the right wing for being hypocrites, monsters, and tone-deaf about how real Americans think and feel. You can't just watch Fox News and know enough about the world, no more than you can do that by watching just CNN or MSNBC. You need to create the balance, because any media outlet that claims to be fair and balanced is neither.