Sarah Palin, so fond of invoking the "mama grizzly" image to describe powerful female politicians, is about to face off with one of the most potent ever. Palin has confirmed the UK's Mail on Sunday's report that she's planning a trip to Great Britain to meet with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, 84, saying that the "Iron Lady" — whose working relationship with Ronald Reagan helped end the Cold War — is one of her "political heroines." (Watch Christopher Hitchens compare Thatcher's and Palin's beauty.) The proposed summit has commentators wondering what might be on the agenda — among other questions:
Do the two have much in common?
Some American commentators think so. Palin has been called the "Western frontier version of Thatcher." In describing a certain emerging "feminist identity" in the GOP, NPR's Robert Costa coined the word "Palinistas" — "smart, pro-life conservative women who succeed with style — and a dash of controversy. The latter they address with a smile, and, Thatcher-like, with a quick quip or a swift kick."
Does the British press agree?
So far, British pundits are having trouble seeing much common ground. "Thatcher did not suffer fools gladly," says Ed Pilkington in The Guardian, whereas "Palin has struggled not to play the fool." Apart from a "shared distaste for unions and penchant for slashing spending," adds Samira Shackle at the New Statesman, the two women would appear to share little.
What might they talk about?
Not much, given the 84-year-old Thatcher is known to suffer from dementia, "to the extent that she now believes herself to be living again in Grantham, where she grew up as a grocer's daughter," says David Cairns at the First Post. A meeting with Thatcher is more likely to yield an opportunity for photographs than substantive discussion.
What are Palin's motives, then?
A quest for conservative symbolism, suggests Martin Kettle in The Guardian. "With Ronald Regan dead, there's only one living legend" for modern day conservatives to meet, "and that's Margaret Thatcher." And a well-timed photo opportunity would certainly provide "publicity for a top political run," muses Michael Sneed at the Chicago Sun-Times.
What do the Brits make of Palin?
"What the stiff upper-lipped Brits would make of Palin's folksiness remains to be seen," says Craig Howie in the L.A. Times. Judging from the comments beneath the Mail on Sunday's story, Palin divides Brits just as much as she divides Americans. "You are very welcome in the UK anytime," says one reader from Lancashire, while another dismisses Palin as a "moron."
Would Palin meet with David Cameron, the new Prime Minister?
"I'm not sure [Palin's people] know who David Cameron is," a source "involved in the talks" told the Mail on Sunday. Nevertheless, an invitation to meet Palin would "pose a delicate diplomatic protocol dilemma" for Cameron, says the newspaper's Simon Walters, as he is attempting to build a "special relationship" of his own with Obama.