In her remarkable life, Margaret Thatcher achieved what Hillary Rodham Clinton still wants (or at least what the pundits say she wants): She became the first female leader of her country, and she did it in such a determined way that her sex was almost an afterthought.
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In many respects, the two women are profoundly different. Thatcher, who died Monday at 87, was a self-described "conviction politician" and arch-conservative who channeled Milton Friedman and bonded fiercely with "Ronnie" Reagan, her great pal and partner on the world stage as the Cold War came to an end. Oddly enough, she and Reagan personally even came to a similar end: suffering, in their old age, Alzheimer's dementia. And Thatcher became as much of a myth-shrouded icon to conservatives in her country as Reagan has been to America's.
Clinton, of course, has been known through most of her political career as an unabashed liberal; many conservatives still have not forgiven her for her ambitious 1993 proposal to provide universal health care, the liberal bookend to today's much-criticized Obamacare law. And unlike Thatcher, who while never denying her womanhood appeared to stride past it, Clinton has made women's rights her signature issue around the world. It was no accident last week when, in the first speeches she has given since leaving her job as secretary of State, Clinton appeared at two different forums with a singular message: "Let's keep telling the world over and over again that yes, women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights once and for all," she said at the Women in the World summit in New York.