I’m still vibrating from the excitement of an evening hearing Mark Steyn, Victor Davis Hanson, and Steve Hayward, something I try to share in this post.
Thanks to a kind friend, last night I once again had the inestimable pleasure of attending PRI’s annual gala. This year, Mark Steyn was the keynote speaker, Victor Davis Hanson received the Sir Antony Fisher Freedom Award, and Steven Hayward was the master of ceremonies. Honestly, for someone who is a political junkie and a total fan girl when it comes to good writing and effortless erudition, it doesn’t get better than that.
I hadn’t planned on taking notes because I always flatter myself that I’ll remember what was said. By the time that Hayward had made several hysterical jokes about San Francisco politics and Hanson had made a brief, but powerful, acceptance speech when he received the Sir Antony Fisher Freedom Award, I realized that, if I wanted to share anything with you, I’d better start writing things down. This belated realization is why I can only dredge up a few of the funny, pertinent things Hayward and Hanson said, but can give you fairly complete rundown of Steyn’s speech.
Naturally, because I’d convinced myself my memory was enough, I hadn’t brought any paper to the gala. I therefore ended up scribbling my notes on the little folded name cards PRI put by each place setting at the table.
Even notes, though, are inadequate to conveying the evening’s intellectual content. I can only liken what the three men said to a continuous cascade of verbal diamonds, with me trying to reach in and grab the most pertinent or funny. Given the number and velocity of those falling diamonds, I know that I missed more diamonds than I captured. I hope, though, that the following gives you some idea about being in the same room as three of the best political writers and thinkers working today.
Steven Hayward opened the evening by talking about the political insanity that characterizes San Francisco. Those were some fast falling diamonds, and I wasn’t yet taking notes, so I only caught two to share with you. The first was that “San Francisco is well on its way to making itself a work free drug place.” If you’re like me, and just about everyone else in the audience, it took you a beat before you realized that, not only was Hayward describing accurately San Francisco’s political trajectory, he was having fun with the mantra that employees are in a “drug free work place.”
The second Hayward joke that I caught was his statement that, when he’s in San Francisco, he feels like “bringing a Smith & Wesson to a Smith & Hawken’s city.” What I found especially funny about that joke is that the foo-foo, high falutin’ Smith & Hawkens, which once sent out catalogs that were the gardening equivalent of a J. Peterman Company catalog, now markets itself through Target. I’ll get back to you when I figure out whether that’s a “how the mighty have fallen” thing or a “wow, talk about profitable broad-based marketing” thing.
Victor Davis Hanson was up next, but he spoke with such brevity that by the time I got my brain in gear to grab those verbal diamonds, he’d already finished speaking. VDH mostly wanted to remind us about the importance of Sir Anthony Fisher’s institutions, which are all over the world acting as advocacy centers for free markets and free thinking. He did say, however, that California is becoming a dangerously bifurcated state economically and politically, a point that cropped up again throughout the evening. [Read more…]