Ex-Republican Joe Scarborough frequently claims to still be a conservative—but rarely does anything to prove it. To the contrary, his stock in trade is criticizing Republicans/conservatives, praising Biden, lamenting the overturning of Roe v. Wade, demanding more gun control, etc.
But on today's Morning Joe, Scarborough did something surprising that actually sounded conservative for a minute: he praised Margaret Thatcher!
This came at the end of a segment with former Obama car czar Steve Rattner. The topic had been yesterday's bad inflation news and the stock market's plunge in reaction.
But before letting him go, Scarborough invited Rattner, who at the beginning of his career was for two years a New York Times correspondent in London, to comment on the passing of Queen Elizabeth.
And in putting the question to Rattner, Scarborough said:
"I know you had fascinating insights about Margaret Thatcher. And as you said, without Thatcher, Britain would be France. I think you're right."
Rattner agreed, and took it even a step further:
"In the early '80s, Margaret Thatcher was imposing very, very tough medicine on Britain to try to pull it together, ultimately succeeded. As you just said, I think it might have ended up as less than France if she hadn't done what she did."
Rattner also praised Queen Elizabeth for her quiet, behind-the-scenes, support for Thatcher's initiatives.
Thatcher was and continues to be a bogeyman for the left, right up there with her conservative comrade-in-arms, Ronald Reagan. For Scarborough and Rattner to praise Thatcher, rightly casting her as the savior of Britain from a fate worse than France, was surprising—to say the least!
Note on Scarborough and Rattner's reference to Thatcher saving Britain from becoming France: during Thatcher's time as Prime Minister, France elected its first-ever Socialist president, Francois Mitterrand. He proceeded to impose a series of catastrophic policies that drove France's economy into a ditch. I was living and working in France at the time, and recall meeting one day with three French businessmen. One asked me, "why did you ever choose to work in France, when you could have remained in the US, where things [under President Reagan], are so much better?"
On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough and Steve Rattner agreeing that Margaret Thatcher's economic policies saved Britain from "becoming France" was sponsored in part by Volvo.
Here's the transcript.
6:39 am EDT
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Analyst Steve Rattner, we'll be talking to you about this very soon.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Oh, hey! Can I ask Steve a real quick question on the side? Real quick question, Steve.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I'm nervous.
SCARBOROUGH: Don't be nervous.
MIKA: I'm a little nervous.
SCARBOROUGH: Don't be nervous at all. We talked to Gene Robinson, who was a Washington Post London bureau correspondent, about the Queen. You spent a good bit of time there as well.
I'm just curious, this week, we haven't had you on to talk about the Queen, but just curious about your thoughts. I know you had fascinating insights about Margaret Thatcher and as you said, without Thatcher, Britain would be France. I think you're right. Talk about the Queen and her -- and how you saw her working in that, that constitutional monarchy.
STEVE RATTNER: Yeah. Look, she, she, the Queen as you know is nonpolitical. She stays out of any kind of policy decisions, and her job there is to really be supportive of whatever the government happens to be, whoever happens to be the Prime Minister, and that's certainly what I saw in my time there in the early '80s.
Margaret Thatcher was imposing very, very tough medicine on Britain to try to pull it together, ultimately succeeded as you just said. I think it might have ended up as maybe less than France if we she hadn't done what she did, but that's another conversation for another day, perhaps.
But the Queen was, was supportive, as is her job, and really stood behind Thatcher, not in a public way, but implicitly by her support, and really was everything you're hearing about her this past week. Very much a rock of stability, a rock of tradition, a link to the past, in a country that puts so much value on that. And of course, you do have and still have anti-monarchists but on balance the British people love the Queen. Even back in the 1980s when I was there.