Margaret Thatcher's long twilight has come to an end, and most Americans will view her through the lens of her ties to Ronald Reagan. After all, the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher is probably the best-known and most-revered tie between an American president and a foreign leader, outside of the one between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Anglo-American ties have been called "the special relationship," and the personal bond between the Gipper and the Iron Lady was particularly strong, although not entirely in the way that it's remembered and perhaps in ways that offer some insight for our times.
There were obvious parallels and affinities between Reagan and Thatcher. Both were champions of the free market and small government; both favored a more aggressive posture toward the Soviet Union; and both pushed their center-right parties to the right.
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But there were differences. Reagan faced an ailing America, Thatcher a dying Britain. It's hard to imagine now the way coal strikes by the nation's powerful miners unions plunged Britain into darkness. It's hard to believe that nationalized industries included gas, electricity, television, and airlines. British newsrooms famously banned computers. Really. The printer's union, the National Typographical Association, had a monopoly on keyboards. Journalists could use typewriters, but computers were the province of printers. The top tax rate was 83 percent, the Telegraph notes, and the tax on unearned income was 98 percent.