How Margaret Thatcher Put Sexist Socialist President Of France In His Place
I love some of those little personal stories from the truly great leaders which don’t tend to make it into the history books. Reagan and Thatcher had quite a few such moments. Recently Michael Novak, in talking about his memoirs Writing From Left to Right, told me this one about a meeting of leaders of the developed world, hosted in France by Francois Mitterrand, the egotistical, socialist, sexist, and failed President of France, but then I repeat myself.
Michael: “Lady Thatcher, too, I had spent some good time with. Really, really love that woman. When Karen and I were together it was often with Dennis and Margaret. Karen took special efforts to bring Dennis into the conversation and it was just so neat, so amazing to be with people in this relaxed situation. And yet, Lady Thatcher invited me to come to Downing Street and I actually went twice. She was eager to show me Spirit of Democratic Capitalism – the book you mentioned – her copy of it. It was marked up on almost every page with little comments, [and] she wanted to show me that because she said, “You’re not going to believe it, but it is all marked up.” And so it was. But I loved the story she told of [when] she went to her first meeting, the G8 or G9, whatever number it was that year when President Mitterrand was the chairman (it was held in France). And he forgot to introduce her in the formal proceedings, and finally he catches himself 20 minutes in or so and she’s fuming; little black cloud over her head. And he says, “Oh, Madam, I am so sorry, I forgot to introduce to everyone here the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It says that first God created Adam and then He took a rib and He created a helpmate for him, and I’m certain that Madam the Prime Minister will be a helpmate to our deliberations.” There was a huge black cloud over her head.”
Jerry: “A little condescending, isn’t it?”
Michael: “When she finally got her chance to speak, she praised Mr. Mitterrand for his “courtesy” which she said in an ironic voice. [Then] she said, “But I must say, I think we read a different Bible in the United Kingdom. In our Bible it says [that] first God created Adam, then, having learned from his mistakes, he created Eve.” I thought that was just so cool and so neat.”
Jerry: “Did that go over well?”
Michael: “I’m not sure at the table, but in places where you retell it goes over great.”
Article originally published on Forbes.com.