"With the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the world has lost one
of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a
(From the White House statement
on Thatcher's death)
Judging by my online interaction with people from the U.K., those left of center—probably most of those I interact with—hated Thatcher. Most, I would guess, approve of Obama. Which makes Obama's praise of Thatcher, in part for the same policies for which they hate her—they, of course, would not describe her economic policies in such positive terms—interesting.
Part of the explanation is summarized by the Latin tag de mortuis nil nisi bonum
—concerning the dead, nothing but good. It is a sentiment I share. When someone about whom I have serious reservations dies, I am reluctant to interrupt the paens of praise with a sour note of criticism, and generally don't. On the other hand, looking at commentary on Thatcher's death from left of center sources other than the President, including the NYT
and various writers in the U.K., I do not see much sign of such restraint.
It would appear indecorous for the President to celebrate the death of a national leader, even one he disapproved of—so far as I know, the death of Hugo Chavez was not celebrated by any official statement from the White House. But the President's statement on Thatcher's death could have been put in less fulsome terms, celebrating her role as a loyal ally of the U.S. and leaving unstated his disapproval of her economic policies. That it was not suggests that Obama sees rhetorical support for libertarian ideals as politically prudent even if his actual policies tend to go in precisely the opposite direction.