American presidents lauded and occasionally ignored Margaret Thatcher

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And what did the leaders of the free World have to say about Baroness Margaret Thatcher?

“One respected her more than any other world leader. One gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And another celebrated Meryl Streep’s portrayal of her on film,” says Eric Ostermeier, author of Smart Politics, a research site at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Her career as Prime Minister spanned 11 years, 6 months, and 24 days, through three presidencies: Jimmy Carter (20 months), Ronald Reagan (eight years), and George H.W. Bush (22 months), he notes.

Near the end of his second term, Reagan called Prime Minister Thatcher “the statesman in the world that I have met that I respect the most,” also noting, “In the critical hour, Margaret Thatcher and the people of Great Britain stood fast in freedom’s defense and upheld all the noblest of your island nation’s traditions; yours was the part of courage and resolve and vision.”

Bill Clinton talked about Thatcher once as president, Mr. Ostermeier says, reminding Americans about the rare honor she received as a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and her role in ending the Cold War:

“Very few non-Americans have received the Medal of Freedom. The last year a foreign leader was honored was 1991, when President Bush presented the award to Margaret Thatcher. That day we celebrated a partnership among nations and leaders that helped to end the Cold War with a victory for freedom.”

George W. Bush celebrated Thatcher three times during his presidency, always pairing her with Ronald Reagan, as an example of a world leader who fought communism and who believed in the undeniable power of freedom:

“The successors of Churchill and Roosevelt, leaders like Truman and Reagan and Thatcher, led a confident Alliance that held firm as communism collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions,” Mr. Bush said.

“The Communists had the harsh rule of Brezhnev and Honecker and Ceausescu. But in the end, it was no match for the vision of Walesa and Havel, the defiance of Sakharov and Sharansky, the resolve of Reagan and Thatcher, the fearless witness of John Paul,” Mr. Bush observed.

“As for President Barack Obama?” Mr. Ostermeier asks. “The 44th President has mentioned the Iron Lady just once - in reference to the film ‘The Iron Lady.’ “

Mr. Obama was delivering remarks at the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors, lauding honoree Meryl Streep and the varied roles over her career “ranging from Julia Child to, most recently, Margaret Thatcher.”

Mr. Ostermeier adds, “No doubt the President will have a little more to say about the former Prime Minister during the days to come since her passing on Monday.”

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