When Leo Strauss received the news that Winston Churchill had died in January 1965, he made the following spontaneous remarks in his classroom at the University of Chicago on the lessons of Churchill’s life—lessons that apply just as well to Margaret Thatcher. His conclusion:
The death of Churchill reminds us . . . of our duty. We have no higher duty, and no more pressing duty, than to remind ourselves and our students, of political greatness, human greatness, of the peaks of human excellence. For we are supposed to train ourselves and others in seeing things as they are, and this means above all in seeing their greatness and their misery, their excellence and their vileness, their nobility and their triumphs, and therefore never to mistake mediocrity, however brilliant, for true greatness.
A later generation got to see this same kind of true greatness in action again in the 1980s with Thatcher. Everyone will have his or her greatest hits to remember—none perhaps more applicable to America’s current plight than her remark that the problem with socialism is that sooner or later you start to run out of other people’s money. One of my favorites was her remark, stemming from her Euroskepticism (doesn’t that look rather prescient just now) in the late 1990s that “In my lifetime all of our problems have come from mainland Europe. And all of the solutions have come from the English speaking nations across the world.”
[UPDATE]: I’ve got a longer obituary notice up over at the Ashbrook Center website.
A fitting sendoff is her fabulous beatdown of the socialists in her final appearance as PM in the House of Commons: