The Daily Mail reported this Sunday that, on an upcoming visit to the UK, Sarah Palin hopes to have a meeting with Margaret Thatcher. I’m sure this cringeworthy moment was a political inevitability – but I did cherish the hope that, by some miracle, it would never quite come about.

Sarah Palin is exactly the kind of politician, perpetually underprepared and incapable of intelligent debate, that Margaret Thatcher always seemed to hate. Over the two years since her rise to national and international prominence, Palin has displayed a worrying ignorance of nearly all major topics, from the economy to foreign policy; furthermore, her femininity – unlike Thatcher’s – has sometimes been paraded unflatteringly before the public (for instance, when the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 of its campaign funds on designer clothes for her and her family – an act that would have driven Thatcher, a notorious recycler of clothes, mad).

Thatcher, on the other hand, did her homework meticulously for Cabinet meetings and international summits alike, often surprising (and annoying) interviewers with a spooky capacity to anticipate their questions and provide gushing, aggressively dogmatic answers. In this respect, the two politicians could hardly be more different.

In fact, the only thing I can see that the two women have in common, apart from their sex, is that neither of them reads the newspapers. Thatcher didn’t while she was in power, and Palin famously couldn’t name any periodical she read during the 2008 election. Even here, though, there is a difference: Thatcher didn’t read the news because she was too busy; Palin just couldn’t be bothered.

Thatcher was a savvy politician with a passion for the political fray: she worked for long years to get into the House of Commons, making sacrifices of time, money, sleep, and leisure, even when she could easily have afforded to stay home and take care of her children without having a job of her own. She was thick-skinned and stood firm through some of the most vicious press coverage and popular bile ever directed at a British Prime Minister. Palin couldn’t even handle one term as Governor of Alaska.

The point is that all this Sarah Palin business has gone a bit too far. We put up with her for a little while during the Presidential campaign, a great many of us hoping that she would eventually disappear, but she hasn’t – and now she seems to have been let loose on the wider world. If she is granted official meetings with some of the most respected former Western leaders, her presence on the political scene is immediately, and, in my opinion, inappropriately, legitimised.

Palin is weak and unschooled in comparison with the battle-tested, four-hours-of-sleep-per-night turbo-politician that was Thatcher in her prime. I hope that, if their meeting occurs, Thatcher has enough edge left in her to recognise Palin for what she is: not the real thing, but a very, very poor imitation.

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