All-Star Panel: How Margaret Thatcher impacted the world

'Special Report' All-Star panel remembers the 'Iron Lady'


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 8, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MARGARET THATCHER, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: 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.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Margaret ended our first meeting by telling me, "we must stand together." And that's exactly what we have done.


BRET BAIER,ANCHOR: Baroness Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of Great Britain, friend of Ronald Reagan, friend to the U.S., dead today at the age of 87 of a stroke. Her life and legacy, we are back with the panel. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think she has a two line epitaph. She single-handedly saved her country from socialism. And together with just a few others, including Reagan, she helped to bury communism forever, which we don't remember but was for a century the predominant ideology in the world.

At home she was amazing. She faced down the union that even her party, the Tories, had given up on taming. She undid the sclerotic bureaucracy that she had inherited by selling off all the things that labor had nationalized, and selling them off in a way -- including council housing – that would make stakeholders of ordinary citizen stakeholders in the firms that she had denationalized, and stakeholders in their own homes.

And lastly, she sort of changed the zeitgeist of a country that had imagined that its decline and sclerosis were a result of history, you know, exhaustion by the end of the two world wars and not policy. And in that way she, like Reagan, changed the ideological trajectory of her country. And we learned how true that was when her successor in labor upheld all of her principles and policies.

BAIER: Britain's only female prime minister. She had -- she was, Mara, a character. She had some great phrases that were --

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: She had some great phrases.

BAIER: -- iconic. Let me call up another one here where she addressed folks. Take a listen to this.


THATCHER: For those waiting with baited breath for that favorite media catch phrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say -- you turn if you want to.



THATCHER: The lady is not for turning.


LIASSON: That is a real classic and I had never heard that one before, but that is incredible. She was a character. She was absolutely made of steel. And that was, you know, 90 percent of her success. And what people forget is that she was a partner with Ronald Reagan, but she was also an inspiration to him. And you really have to think how much of the Reagan revolution is owed to Margaret Thatcher? She came in a little bit before him. She already had her tussles with the unions before Reagan took on the air traffic controllers. And she was a real inspiration to him. And I think she is probably the most important single world figure to American conservatism.

BAIER: In other words, people forget how important it is for a world leader to have another world leader to bolster them to stand up like they are and give them extra support.

LIASSON: Right. And sometimes it was kind of very obvious, like saying to George H.W. Bush, don't go would wobbly on us, George. But for Reagan she was a real partner. I think as much as the conservative movement in the United States, you know, idolizes Ronald Reagan, they owe just as much to Margaret Thatcher.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, she challenged the establishment in the Tory party just as Ronald Reagan had, in 1976, the establishment of the Republican Party. I think that's a major part of her enduring legacy. She spoke with a clarity and a conviction that we just don't see in most politicians today, even in most world leaders.

And at a time when, you know, some of the conventional wisdom here in Washington but also elsewhere places such value on compromise. It's such a virtue. She, I think, reminds us that it's not always good to compromise. In fact, it's often good not to compromise on behalf of your principles, to stand firm on the things that you believe in most.

And one of the interesting things as we see the euro crisis playing out over in Europe to remember is that she fought that tooth and nail. And if you go back and look at her books, she was prophetic in predicting what would happen with a common currency. She said Germany is going to be left holding the bag and the poor countries are all going to need bailouts.  She was very wise on all of those kinds of matters.

BAIER: Here is what House Speaker John Boehner said today, Charles, "Margaret Thatcher, a grocer's daughter, stared down elites, union bosses, and communists to win three consecutive elections, establish conservative principles in Western Europe, and bring down the Iron Curtain. There was no secret to her values -- hard work and personal responsibility -- and no nonsense at all in her leadership."  I heard a number of people today say the Republican Party today needs a Margaret Thatcher.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I think every country at every time could use somebody as principled and smart and strong as she is. I think what we don't quite remember in the gauzy recollections today is how despised she was, how widely despised at home and to some extent here among the left. I mean, she angered everybody in her country from the communist union leaders to the upper class twits in her own party, which isn't easy to do.

But she had tremendous strength and courage. When the Falklands were invaded, she immediately declared she would go to war and undo it. She had no idea how. The Brits were totally unprepared. But she knew that it would take almost a month for the ships to arrive. So she had a month to actually work out how to do it. So, they sent everything that was afloat out into the South Atlantic, and when they arrived, they had a plan, and they succeeded. But it was a dicey proposition at the beginning. And it was a moment that turned around her image at home and abroad.

BAIER: All right, Margaret Thatcher, 87. That's it for the panel.  But stay tuned as we reveal some new problems that the government is facing.

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