Leader of the Opposition


Vote Conservative

In his book Manliness, Harvey Mansfield remarks that “The mightiest woman of our time, Margaret Thatcher, is no model for feminists, partly because of her conservative opinions, of course, but also because her renowned insensitivity makes them uneasy.” No surprise there. But does her “renowned insensitivity”—which is Mansfield’s ironic way of saying she was clear-eyed, hardheaded, and direct—also make today’s conservative politicians uneasy? Apparently so. Why else do so few take her as a model?

It’s one heck of a model. A former junior cabinet minister, and one not favored by the party establishment, Thatcher challenged the former prime minister Edward Heath for the leadership of the Conservative party in 1975 and defeated him. As leader of the opposition, she reshaped the party, went to the electorate in 1979 with the boldest conservative reform agenda since World War II, and handily defeated Labour prime minister James ...

Admiral Locklear

'I Can't Do It'


After several minutes of badgering from Sen. John McCain at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 9, Admiral Samuel Locklear admitted that the combination of regularly scheduled defense budget cuts and the “sequestration” provision of the current budget law ...


Iron Without Irony

The triumph of toughness



If it is true that people’s political assumptions reflect the battles that were being waged when they were 18, then my assumptions are probably unreasonable. The first political leader to whom I paid serious attention wound up the most successful Western leader since the Second World War. I spent the summer of 1982 in Scotland and lived in England in 1984 and 1986. Musically, it was the time of transition from the Clash to the Smiths. Historically, it was the time of Britain’s victory in the Falklands war, its violent, yearlong miners’ strike and the so-called Big Bang that revolutionized its finance industry. But in anybody’s terms, it was the time of Margaret Thatcher, who died last week, aged 87.

Thatcher took power in 1979. Back then, as often happens in failing societies, there was a presumption in favor of certain destructive arguments. These were in particularly sharp relief in Britain, which was said to be haunted by the loss of ...

The soon-to-be Conservative party leader in her Chelsea kitchen in 1975

The Victorian Lady

Margaret Thatcher's virtues.


I was at a reception at the British embassy here in Washington in the early 1990s, I believe, when I was introduced to Margaret Thatcher by John O’Sullivan, her friend and former “Special Adviser.” Gertrude Himmelfarb, he told her, had recently delivered the Margaret Thatcher Lecture in Tel ...


The Decline of Obama

How to lose friends and influence.


With President Obama, there’s always a catch. In the 2014 budget he announced last week, Obama proposed a more accurate way of calculating the inflation rate for annual cost-of-living increases in Social Security. It’s a technical change in pursuit of honesty and good ...

Elephant herd

Location, Location

The secret to the Republicans' House majority.


The 2012 national election continues to be a puzzle. Barack Obama won reelection with a solid 51 percent of the vote, and Democrats picked up 2 Senate seats, expanding their majority to 55-45. Yet the House of Representatives remained in Republican control, 234-201, yielding ...

KnightSec's online calling-card

A Media Smear

Noxious gender politics go mainstream.


A sexual assault case involving several teenagers in Steubenville, Ohio, last fall turned into a national story—and, for many on the left, a vehicle to indict America as a misogynist “rape culture.” While the two defendants were convicted in March, there remain ...


Start a Family...

And before you know it, you'll be voting for the GOP.


In 2005, Steve Sailer wrote a cover story for the American Conservative theorizing that the divide between red and blue states was driven in large part by the cost of family formation. Sailer dubbed this the “Dirt Gap” (referring to the price of homes with yards), and his general ...

Tim Scott

The Tea Partier’s Progress

From the House to the Senate.


When Republican senator Tim Scott addresses an audience, he paces back and forth on the stage. He doesn’t use notes or look at a teleprompter. He punctuates with his hands, pointing his index finger outward or turning his palms upward. He looks and sounds like a ...


Waiting for Obama

Don't expect White House leadership on corporate tax reform.


The Obama administration recently signaled to the business community that it could countenance some version of a territorial tax system for income earned abroad by U.S. businesses. Tax reform enthusiasts have seized on this perhaps a little too desperately, as evidence ...


Dateline Pyongyang

The AP's problematic North Korea bureau


Instagram, North Korea

In February, North Korea conducted its third nuclear weapons test since 2006. The test, performed in defiance of scores of United Nations sanctions, outraged the international community. Within weeks, the U.N. had leveled more sanctions on the rogue regime, beefing up inspections of North Korean cargo, banning luxury exports to the impoverished nation’s appallingly self-indulgent ruling coterie, requiring countries to freeze all financial transactions that might somehow aid the North Korean nuclear program, and barring the transport of bulk cash into the country.

Kim Jong-un’s government, predictably, was enraged, threatening to launch a nuclear attack on the United States and to turn nearby Seoul into a sea of fire. But it wasn’t only the North Korean regime that warned against the sanctions. On March 8, the day after the U.N. penalties were levied, one venerable news agency ran a strange story under the headline, “UN Sanctions May Play Into ...

Sam Fox in Belgium, 2008

Advise and Dissent

The recess appointment power: a slow-motion train wreck


On January 25, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that President Obama did not have the constitutional authority to make recess appointments for three new members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It concluded unanimously that the president had no ...

Books & Arts

Poet of Loss

Dead at 25, Keats is forever the passionate voice.


Portrait of John Keats by William Hilton

Oh, for ten years, that I may overwhelm / Myself in poesy.

So wrote the author of  “Sleep and Poetry,” composed in late 1816. Alas, John Keats was allowed only half that time, dying at the age of 25 in 1821.

Is there any more affecting story than his in the annals of English literature? Orphaned at a young age, barely five feet tall (and sensitive about it), and raggedly educated, Keats was nonetheless naturally gregarious and fond of “women, wine, and snuff.” A Londoner through and through, he loved the theater, enjoyed watching boxing matches, and once spent an evening cutting cards for half guineas. This sometimes overidealized poet—so sensitive! so ethereal!—even seems to have been treated for a venereal disease, possibly syphilis. He fell in love at least twice before he met Fanny Brawne, to whom he became engaged. When they were apart or quarrelling, he suffered horribly from ...

'Good beef for hungry people.'

Here's the Beef

Prime cuts, from the Chisholm Trail to Walter Mondale


This is the latest in the “edible series” of books put out by Reaktion Books, each of which explores the history and cultural associations of a particular food or drink. Written by Lorna Piatti-Farnell of the Auckland ...


Apocryphal Now

The psychology, and mythology, of the Vietnam war.


Nick Turse wants us to know that the killing of civilians during the war in Vietnam was “widespread, routine, and directly attributable to U.S. command policies,” that “gang rapes were a .  .  . common occurrence,” ...

Bust of FDR at Four Freedoms Park

A Hidden Monument

Roosevelt Island commemorates its namesake.


New York
Nearly 40 years after his death, the legendary architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974) has finally completed his first project in New York City. A monument to Franklin Delano Roosevelt known as Four Freedoms Park, it stands at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, a skinny ...

Don Cherry, 2007

Northern Highlights

When Canadians watch ice hockey, this is what they see.


When the four-month-long National Hockey League (NHL) lockout was resolved this past winter, a collective sigh of relief could be heard—especially in Canada, where ice hockey is viewed as a national ...

James McAvoy

If Memory Serves

Familiar premise (art heist) meets tired device (amnesia).


Trance has to be judged one of the great disappointments in recent cinema, given that it is only the second movie Danny Boyle has made since Slumdog Millionaire. That Oscar-winning worldwide smash may have been the best film ...


Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013


Visiting a Concrete Factory, 1978

I cannot claim to have been an intimate of Margaret Thatcher’s. But I can claim to have known her on several levels—as a prime minister from whom I learned to put the “political” back into “political economy,” as a woman who fancied both her whisky and her sweet desserts, and as one who made it possible for me and others to withstand the thuggishness of the pickets attempting to block the introduction of new technology into Britain’s newspaper industry.

First things first—her lessons in political economy. When Prime Minister Thatcher was planning the privatization of one of the industries she moved from the woefully inefficient, overmanned public sector into private ownership, she priced the shares so that small investors would be assured of a profit in the aftermath of the offering. I complained that by underpricing the shares, she was in effect cheating the taxpayers by selling off one of their assets at bargain-basement ...


Remembering Robert Bork

Robert H. Bork

The Scrapbook had the melancholy pleasure last week of attending a memorial service, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, for Robert Bork, who died a few days before Christmas. Judge Bork was properly eulogized at the time, but his death has rekindled a new interest in and appreciation of his wide-ranging influence on legal philosophy and public policy. As was said of Learned Hand earlier in the last century, Robert Bork was undoubtedly the most influential lawyer of his time not to have served on the Supreme Court.

This memorial service, however, was of another order. Certainly the highlights of Bork’s career were recalled, as well as the crucible of his nomination to the Court. But perhaps because the service was organized by his family, and attended by a gathering of friends and admirers, it was Bork the man, not Bork the legal scholar or public figure, who was fondly remembered. The speakers included former colleagues, ...


See No Evil...

Over the past few weeks a jury heard testimony in the murder trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. He stands accused of murdering a 41-year-old refugee from Nepal and severing the spines of seven newborns who had survived late-term abortion ...

Emporia State

Decline of Debate

In recent weeks, Emporia State University became the first team ever to win both the Cross Examination Debate Association national tournament and the National Debate Tournament—the two biggest prizes in collegiate debate. But it turns out that Emporia won the National Debate ...

What They Were Thinking
The Koreas

Dictatorships and Double Standards

There are plenty of ways that the New York Times could have chosen to refer to South Korea’s new president, Park Geun-hye, whom Ethan Epstein profiled in these pages a few months back (“Democracy, Gangnam-Style,” December 17, 2012). In fact, The Scrapbook would ...


The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers