Thatcher's Lessons for Hillary Clinton

National Journal

IN THE NEWS: Washington mourns Thatcher’s passing … Tim Johnson announces gay marriage support … SEC head confirmed … Harry Reid makes filibuster warning … Five staffers to watch on immigration … The conservative senator who could control Obama’s fate.

THE TAKE

Advice for America’s Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher’s passing at age 87 has allowed us to talk, at least for a day, about a conservative icon who is not Ronald Reagan. That’s a relief. All the chatter about Thatcher’s life and career also allows us to offer a little advice, perhaps, to America’s own would-be Iron Lady (albeit a more liberal version): Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Like Thatcher, Clinton is known as tough, smart, and able. But whereas everyone—allies and enemies alike—always knew where Thatcher stood, that’s not true of Clinton. Beyond women’s rights, we’re not sure of Clinton’s overall philosophy. And if she ends up running in 2016, that could hurt her.

And here’s a final bit of hoary-yet-helpful wisdom for Hillary from old Maggie. Ever since her earliest days as would-be first lady, standing by candidate Bill Clinton’s side, Hillary has worked hard at being liked. She has largely succeeded. Yet as Thatcher once said, “If you just set out to be liked, you will be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime, and would achieve nothing.” Read more

Michael Hirsh
mhirsh@nationaljournal.com 

TOP NEWS

WASHINGTON MOURNS THATCHER’S PASSING. Politicians from both parties mourned the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher today with glowing praise for the conservative icon, The New York Times reports. In a statement, President Obama called her “an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered.” House Speaker John Boehner called her the “greatest peacetime prime minister in British history,” and Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, tweeted, “The best way to honor Baroness Thatcher is to crush liberalism and sweep it into the dustbin of history.” Read more

  • National Journal’s Matthew Cooper argues that in many ways, Thatcher was even tougher than Reagan.

REID WARNS FILIBUSTER REFORM STILL ON THE TABLE. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is warning Republicans that he will weaken their filibuster powers through a procedural vote with a simple majority if they continue to indefinitely block nominees, Talking Points Memo reports. “If the Republicans in the Senate don’t start approving some judges, and don’t start helping get some of these nominations done, then we’re going to have to take more action,” he said. The warning comes as Sri Srinivasan, an Obama nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, comes before the chamber on Wednesday for a confirmation hearing. Another Obama nominee withdrew last month in the face of Republican resistance, although the court has been plagued by vacancies for years. Read more

NEWTOWN FAMILIES TO RIDE ON AIR FORCE ONE. President Obama will bring 11 relatives of the Newtown, Conn., shooting victims with him from Connecticut to Washington on Air Force One today, the Associated Press reports. The lift will allow the relatives to attend the president’s gun-control speech in Hartford, and then to meet face-to-face with senators to advocate for federal gun measures. Read more

MARY JO WHITE CONFIRMED AS SEC HEAD. The Senate unanimously confirmed Mary Jo White as chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission this afternoon, MarketWatch reports. White faced some scrutiny over her time representing white-collar defendants in private practice, but any concerns appear to have been overridden by her record of successful prosecutions as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Read more

JOHNSON ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR GAY MARRIAGE. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., announced his support for same-sex marriage on Monday, according to a press release from his office. Johnson, who plans to retire at the end of his term, said in a statement: "After lengthy consideration, my views have evolved sufficiently to support marriage equality legislation. This position doesn't require any religious denomination to alter any of its tenets; it simply forbids government from discrimination regarding who can marry whom." There are now only three Senate Democrats who have not come out in favor of gay marriage. 

INTELLIGENCE CZAR: CUTS COULD LEAD TO FAILURES. James Clapper, the nation’s intelligence czar, is warning that budget cuts could lead to “insidious” consequences, The Washington Post reports. He said the public would not notice the cuts until an intelligence “failure” occurred, comparing the current budgetary climate to that of the 1990s, when cuts atrophied the intelligence apparatus ahead of 9/11. Read more

OBAMA’S APPROVAL BACK OVER 50 PERCENT. A new CNN/ORC poll, released today, shows President Obama’s approval rating at 51 percent (up from 47 percent in March), but a majority disapprove of his handling of gun policy and 58 percent disapprove of his handling of the federal budget deficit. In addition, 41 percent of Americans consider North Korea as an immediate threat to the U.S. – a 13-point jump in less than a month.

FIVE SENATE STAFFERS TO WATCH ON IMMIGRATION. With the “Gang of Eight” senators meeting to achieve bipartisan immigration legislation, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., promising to give it a prompt hearing in his committee, immigration is clearly a priority. That has meant long hours for the aides preparing for hearings and writing actual legislative language. National Journal identifies five key Senate staffers who will help shape any immigration legislation. Read more

HAROLD ICKES ALSO READY FOR HILLARY. Within a week of its launch, the Ready for Hillary PAC has already lined up the cooperation of another high-ranking Clinton adviser, The Washington Post reports. Harold Ickes, a fundraiser and strategist for the former secretary of State, has agreed to advise the group and help raise money. The news comes days after James Carville agreed to send an e-mail appeal on behalf of the PAC, which has no formal relationship with Clinton. Read more

TOP DEMS TO HELP FUNDRAISE FOR COLBERT BUSCH. A number of top Democrats are coming to the aid financially of Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the South Carolina Democrat who is running against former Gov. Mark Sanford for an open congressional seat. Politico reports that Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md.; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., “are among the several dozen Democratic lawmakers listed as hosts for an upcoming fundraiser in Washington. All three are viewed as potential contenders for national office.” The April 15 fundraiser will be attended by Colbert Busch’s brother, Stephen Colbert, the Comedy Central host. Read more

  • Get your DVRs ready: Former President Clinton will be visiting The Colbert Report on Monday night at 11:30 p.m.

TOMORROW

WYDEN TO GRILL OBAMA’S ENERGY PICK. Obama’s nominee for Energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, will get a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. Moniz, a professor at MIT, has rankled some liberals with his views on nuclear power and his tiesto the oil and gas industry, but he is widely expected to win confirmation. Still, expect pointed questions on nuclear energy from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has something of a history with Moniz. Read more

MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES NOMINEE TO GET HEARING. Marilyn Tavenner, who has been running the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for more than a year, will appear before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday for a hearing. Though she may get some tough questions, Tavenner has impressed enough people on the other side of the aisle as a “straight shooter” that her confirmation seems likely, Politico reports. Read more

PERFORMANCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE TO FEATURE MEMPHIS SOUL. On Tuesday, as part of their "In Performance at the White House" series, President Obama and the first lady will invite a long list of musical artists, including Justin Timberlake, Al Green, Queen Latifah, Mavis Staples, Ben Harper, and Alabama Shakes, for a celebration of Memphis soul music at the White House. The show will air live, at 8 p.m., on PBS.

QUOTABLE

"There is nothing political consultants love more than celebrating their own genius." -- President Obama (Reuters)

BEDTIME READING

WILL BUZZFEED’S VIRAL ALGORITHM PRODUCE PROFITS OR MERELY BUZZ?BuzzFeed is as polarizing as it is popular, writes Andrew Rice in this week’s New York Magazine. Venture capitalists have pumped $46 million into it, but others like Gawker Media’s Nick Denton have predicted the viral-content juggernaut—a site devoted to getting you to consume its content via other platforms—will “collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.” BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti has spent a decade tinkering with an algorithm to fabricate memes. “Beneath BuzzFeed’s cheery gloss lies a data-driven apparatus designed to figure out what makes you click,” Rice writes. The site doesn’t run banner advertising, but instead treats its 16 million monthly visitors as its own advertising, “a demonstration of what the company could do for any brand willing to pay to place its own articles on the site”—an emerging practice called “native advertising.” Read more

PLAY OF THE DAY

OBAMA’S SCALE OF HOT PUBLIC SERVANTS.The new topic of late-night comedy this weekend was President Obama’s comments at a recent fundraiser in which he called California Attorney General Kamala Harris "the best-looking attorney general in the country." Late Night’s Jimmy Fallon and Leno brought first lady Michelle Obama into the jokes, while Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyers compared Harris to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Watch it here

REALITY CHECK

THE CONSERVATIVE SENATOR WHO COULD CONTROL OBAMA’S FATE. President Obama’s legacy may be in the uncertain grip of a conservative senator from Pennsylvania, a former president of the tax-cutting Club for Growth who received high marks from the National Rifle Association. On guns and deficit reduction, two cornerstones of the Obama agenda, Sen. Pat Toomey may hold the key to compromise, as National Journal’s Ron Fournier reports. Read more

GRAPH OF THE DAY

WHERE STATES, LAWMAKERS STAND ON GAY MARRIAGE. National Journal has an intriguing U.S. map showing where, exactly, states stand on gay marriage, and The Atlantic has a helpful map showing which states’ senators have announced their support for same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, National Journal’s Brian Fung explains how the increasingly successful gay-marriage movement could offer lessons for those who want to legalize marijuana.


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