The Alexander Hamilton Award was created to celebrate
New York and honor those individuals helping to foster the revitalization
of our nation’s cities. We chose to name the award after Hamilton
because, like the Manhattan Institute, he was a fervent proponent
of commerce and civic life, and he believed the health of the nation
hinged upon vibrant cities. He was also the quintessential New Yorker.
Hamilton went to university, joined the army, and practiced law
in New York. His last home stands in Harlem; his grave is at the
crown of Wall Street across from the bank he started; the newspaper
he founded is still shaking things up. New York’s style—passionate,
entrepreneurial, ambitious, inclusive—reflected his vision of America
and shaped his politics.
HAMILTON 2004 AWARD DINNER
Tuesday, April 29
The 2004 Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner took place on April 29,
honoring William F. Buckley Jr., Peter M. Flanigan, and the late Robert
ROGER HERTOG: Good evening. Could we all be seated? Good
evening. I'm Roger Hertog. And behalf, on behalf of our chairman,
thank you. On behalf of our chairman, Dick Weissman, welcome to
our Fourth Annual Alexander Hamilton Dinner. As you've read in the
program, my role this evening is Master of Ceremony. To assure that
I was up to this complex task, I scoured my Webster's Dictionary,
only to find ceremony described, and I quote, as "an action
performed with no deep significance." I promise to work hard
not to disappoint any of you.
Now the deep dark secret lurking below the surface of these kinds
of elegant events, is that most of us would rather be home having
a quiet dinner, watching American Idol, or Survivor. Or if you're
a social bore like me, reruns of the Watergate hearings on C-SPAN
Nonetheless, we all have social obligations to our friends, to
whom we have a tacit bargain, which was best articulated by the
great Yankee catcher, Yogi Bera, who said, "If you don't go
to their funeral, they won't go to yours." But the truth is,
this event is unique. It guarantees a room full of the most interesting
people in the greatest city in the world, an evening of substance,
which celebrates the men of ideas. After all the inspiration for
this dinner is Alexander
Hamilton, a giant intellectual who was also a man of action, dedicated
to the principles on which our nation country was founded, an 18th-century
immigrant who became the quintessential New Yorker, who was
the architect of modern America, the prophet of its capitalist revolution,
author of the majority of the federalist papers, creator of our
nation's budget and tax system, founder of the Bank of New York
and the New York Post, and if that wasn't enough, he could
have founded the New York Sun. And if that wasn't enough,
a major general in Washington's Army. For those who are interested
in learning more about Hamilton, we have our own special party favor
for you. It's an autographed copy of Ron Chernow's just published Magisterial Biography, which each couple may take home this
evening, for this alone, I'm sure, you would all agree, it was worth
missing American Idol. But let us get on with the ceremony. Tonight
we honor three great New Yorkers. Those who embody the values of
the Hamiltoline tradition. Now when you say Bartley, Buckley, and
Flanagan, it sounds more like a name of your favorite saloon, rather
than three great intellectuals. If we had added a Shapiro or a Goldberg
to our roster, it would have the sound of a nice mid-sized law firm,
with our guy hired to do the books. But Peter Flanagan, William
F. Buckley Jr., and Robert Bartley epitomize the spirit in which
this award is given. What ties these men together is their devotion
to words, their love of ideas, and their understanding of the inextricable
bond between ideas and action. Whether expressed in newspaper editorials,
columns, books, or conveyed to children in inner city schools, their
work is essential to the workings of our great democracy. And for
this, we honor them this evening.
distinguished honorees will be introduced by celebrated journalists.
Paul Gigot for Bob Bartley, David Brooks for Bill Buckley, and John
Stostle for Peter Flanagan. But before I cede the podium over the
course of this evening to these luminaries, while you're still digesting
your lobster salad with mango and salsa, let me present a brief
commercial from our sponsor the Manhattan Institute. Two thousand
four marks the 25th anniversary. Ours. We tried to step back and
reflect how we've done over this quarter of a century in achieving
our objectives to enhance the life of our city and our nation. I
hope you find this video interesting. Could we close the curtains,
turn down the lights?
25th ANNIVERSARY VIDEO
MR. PAUL GIGOT: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name
is Paul Gigot. I'm here to talk about Bob Bartley. Now we all miss
Bob very much. But we are privileged tonight to have Bob's wife
Edith here as well as their three daughters. Beth, Suzanne, and
Catherine, would you please stand up, and, thank you.
I want to begin by pointing out the indisputable historical fact
that four days after Bob Bartley died, last December, Saddam Hussein
was captured. Coincidence? I don't think so. I assume that upon
his arrival in heaven, Bob wasted no time telling God what he had
to get done.
No one deserves a prize named for Alexander Hamilton more than
Bob Bartley. When you think about it, Hamilton and Bartley were
the two most influential Treasury Secretaries in American history.
Bob may never have formally held the title, but why quibble about
a technicality like Senate confirmation, when everyone knows he
had more influence over economic policy than any mere Cabinet member?
Some of us are old enough to recall what the world was like in the
1970s when Bob became editor of the Journal. Amid rising
prices, gasoline lines, and what everyone called stagflation. I
happened to be fresh out of college, working at National Review for Bill Buckley. And by the way, tonight we are honoring the two
greatest editors of the last 50 years, and David Brooks and I got
to work for both of them. How's that for luck? You may have noticed
that I didn't say greatest conservative editors, I said greatest
anyway, I began reading the review and outlook columns in the Wall
Street Journal at that time, and I remember thinking, "Wow,
this is amazing! Even more, this is fun!" Reading those columns,
you could begin to see past the problems, the many problems of that
day, to sunnier times. You could see that our problems had solutions.
Now Bob was the straw that stirred that drink. As he was also the
editor who brought the ideas of Robert Mundell and Art Laffer, Albert
Wilstedder, and James Q. Wilson, and so many others to prominence.
In awarding Bob the presidential medal of freedom last year, President
Bush called him, quote, "One of the most influential journalists
in American history," unquote. We're going to show alI agree.
We're going to show a short tape of Bob talking about his own career.
But first I want to mention what I think is an under appreciated
part of Bob's legacy. That's his courage and tenacity.
Every journalist can throw a punch, we're very good at it. But
one secret of Bob's success was how well he could take one. All
of us who worked for Bob eventually had the experience of writing
something that got us into trouble with an advertiser, a politician,
or someone. And sure enough, Bob would saunter over, sit down, put
his feet up on your desk, and say something like, "Okay, how
do we escalate?" He never said this with any malice. He said
it because he had firms convictions that he was not about to abandon
at the first sign of resistance. He once told us that he figured
it took 65 editorials on any one subject to really get something
done. Bob was tough. And he had to be. Paul Greenberg wrote last
year that Bob wasn't so much a conservative as he was a quote, "liberal
counter revolutionary," unquote. In the 19th-century sense
of that world liberal. Bob would have liked that.
Taking over the journal when he did in 1972, Bob had to fight a
political and intellectual establishment that refused to acknowledge
that it had lost its way. He fought lonely struggles arms control,
Soviet Union, on economics, education and welfare, and on somebody
other subjects. None of this made Bob popular. Certainly not at
the time, or even after events would vindicate his views. His critics
could never forgive him for being right. Never was this more true
than in Bob's coverage of the Clinton presidency. It might seem
easy for an editor of a major newspaper to criticize the ethics
of a American President, but believe me, it isn't.
Ben Bradlee was celebrated and cheered after events vindicated
what the Washington Post wrote about the Nixon White House.
But Bob I don't think has ever received credit he deserves for being
the first president to tell the truth, that presidential character
was the biggest story of the Clinton years, a truth later validated
by the difficulties of the Clintons' second term, by the election
of 2000, and especially by is Falstaffian final days. As Bob once
quipped, our readers weren't surprised by the Mark Rich [unintelligible].
Another great Bartley trait was his modesty. Bob was the least publicly
known, most unassuming powerful person in America. He rarely did
television, except at the end of his career when he helped to develop
the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board show that ran for
a while on CNBC. We happen to have a clip from one of those shows
that was taped after Bob gave his valedictory speech as journal
editor in November of 2002. Let's run the tape and hear from Bob
MALE VOICE: This week he made his valedictory speech to America's
movers and shakers. Here's how he concluded his remarks.
BOB BARTLEY: What I think I've learned over three decades is that
in this society, rationality wins out, progress happens, and problems
do have solutions. This, I like to think, is what happens when a
society incorporates the traditional editorial credo of my newspaper,
free markets, and free people, and that kind of society, my three
decades is there to testify, optimism pays.
INTERVIEWER: You are indeed an optimist, are you not?
BOB BARTLEY: I think, I think maybe people are born that way.
INTERVIEWER: But you think this is an optimistic, positive, go-forward
BOB BARTLEY: Oh absolutely. Very, I mean, we, I have, in that speech
I sketched out all the problems we had back in 1972 when I took
over. I mean the Soviets were on the march, the economy was about
to come apart, we were about to get into this terrible decade of
the '70s, the inflation, malaise, energy, and we overcame all that.
And here we are today, the Berlin Wall has fallen. The economy has
some problems at the moment, but we resolved that terrible thing
in the '30s, and, you know, I think I had some little part to play
INTERVIEWER: What's the editorial of which you are most proud? Or
which [unintelligible] had the most impact?
BOB BARTLEY: [interposing] Well, I don't. It's a little hard to
say, I wrote so many of them. But, you know, at this meeting here
the other night, Henry Kissinger spoke on my behalf, and we had
a little bit of dialogue.
INTERVIEWER: [interposing] Mm-hmm.
BOB BARTLEY: Because back in the 1970's, I was beating on him pretty
hard because he was giving away the store to the Russians I thought.
And what he thought was that he was trying to get out of Vietnam.
And I think we came pretty close together here the other night,
saying that, you know, we had to do both, you know.
INTERVIEWER: One thing that has stayed constant throughout your
30 years in this, as editor. What is it? What stayed exactly the
same? What changed?
BOB BARTLEY: Well, I think that hasn't changed is that on a personal
basis is a curiosity. You know, I'm still very curious about how
different parts of the world work. And I think in a way that's what's
sustained me through this
[END OF VIDEO PRESENTATION]
MR. PAUL GIGOT: Edith, would you like to come up and receive
the Alexander Hamilton bust?
MS. EDITH BARTLEY: I came up on the wrong stairs. I must
say thank you to Paul, I must say thank you to Roger. And I want
to say just a couple of other things. As Paul alluded, Bob had a
lot of fun. He always had a lot of fun. And the other thing I want
to say is no matter your degree of courage, no matter how staunch
your convictions, no matter how stiff your backbone, everybody needs
friends. Colleagues, yes, but everybody needs friends. You here
tonight were Bob's friends, and I thank you all.
MALE VOICE: We have a guest who needs no introduction. The
mayor of the city of New York, Michael Bloomberg.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Well, I may not need one, but that
was one of the best I've ever had, actually. Thank you very much
for having me. It's an honor to be here for the Manhattan Institute's
fourth annual Alexander Hamilton Awards. And I want to say hello
to, particularly to my old friend, Henry Kissinger, whose 30th wedding
anniversary I just attended. I asked him the secret of a good marriage,
and his answer was diplomacy. I told everybody that would work.
Tonight's awards honor those who helped revitalize our nation's
cities. And this award couldn't have a better namesake than Alexander
Hamilton because he really was a New Yorker for real New Yorkers.
Hamilton has certainly been in the news lately. He managed to make
a column today in the Sun, with a publication of a big new
biography by Ron Chernow. I haven't had the chance to read it yet,
but I figured Bill Buckley will cover about three-quarters of it
during his remarks. I'll leave that to Bill. Now seriously, no matter
where you're from, if you're a dreamer, if you're ambitious, if
you have talent and drive to back it up, then there's only one place
to go, I keep telling everybody, and it has the, as Henry would
say, "It has the added advantage of being true." That
place of course is New York City. For those of you that don't know,
Hamilton was born not here, but in the West Indies. He was orphaned
and broke by the time he was a teenager. And it didn't appear early
on that Alexander Hamilton was destined for greatness. My mother
said the same ting about me incidentally, so. Shows you some people
[unintelligible]. Hamilton, his later political rival, John Adams,
who's not alive anymore, even called him the bastard brat of a Scotch
peddler. He did, he did. It's in the books. I'm sure Adams meant
a Scottish peddler. Since anyone with a third grade education that
didn't get socially promoted wouldn't, would know that the West
Indian libation of choice was rum, not Scotch.
Thank you, thank you. I heard that. But like so many people came
before Hamilton and after, Hamilton pulled up his stakes and cast
his lot with New York. And as we all know, his, he succeeded beyond
anyone's wildest dreams. He was a graduate of King's College, or
as it is known to through conservatives, or Columbia to you neocons
co-founded the city's first local bank in the year 1784, the Bank
of New York, and founded the New York Post. As a matter of fact,
there are, it's true, he did. As a matter of fact, there are many
mornings when I would borrow Mr. Adams's colorful language while
reading the post. Most days I'm okay. Certainly, Hamilton thrived,
but when the repaid, but then he repaid is debt to New York a million
times over. His historic pact with Thomas Jefferson got the federal
bureaucrats out of New York City before they could screw things
up, and if you think about it, this really is true. By dividing
our political capital from our commercial capital, he probably set
the wheels in motion for New York's unprecedented commercial growth
in finance, publishing, fashion, and the arts. And I think had the
national government stayed here, that really would not have been
possible. The national government is just so big, it takes over
the whole town. Washington is a one company town for all practical
purposes, and New York is exactly the reverse. New Yorkers is a
place where you can come and really have great opportunity. Simply
put, I think it's fair to say that Hamilton made New York what it
is today, the world's greatest city. Thank you. Hamilton deserves
our thanks, and I would like to congratulate the Manhattan Institute on recognizing his lofty place in American history and New York
history. And let me also congratulate the Manhattan Institute on
your 25th anniversary for a quarter of a century. You've championed
many of the principles that have helped return our city to greatness.
And I think these are principles that I have and my administration
has. Responsibility, accountability, and economic freedom. And you
have offered us, and particularly my administration, great policy
guidance. And when we are slow to realize your wisdom, you offer
us further guidance. Well disguised as criticism. Well, not always
so well disguised, but that's okay. And I'm pleased to say that
our administration has been able to build on Mayor Giuliani's legacy
and accomplish some great things. Let me remind you that crime is
down to historic lows. Another 17% down in the last three years
alone. Our economy is growing. I was at an event in the Bronx today,
and I looked at the numbers. Just think about this. The murder rate
in the Bronx is down 50% in the last three years. It's really quite
an amazing number. Our economy is growing. I know of no company
that moved out of New York City after 9-11, in spite of all the
doomsayers saying everybody was going to New Jersey. They downsized,
but now they're starting to grow again. And they are growing right
here in New York City. We have an unemployment rate that's just
slipped below 8% for the first time since 2002. That is much too
high. But is going in exactly the right direction. And we have a
city where in all five boroughs, one of the biggest problems is
over development. You go of state, you go around the rest of this
country, big cities have deserted buildings and vacant lots. People
in empty stores. That's not the problem here. This problem, this
city has a higher occupancy rate than any other big city in this
country. We have the fewest people on public assistance since 1965.
Think about what that means given the economy. We have a housing
boom that is continuing. We have neighborhoods where people are
fighting to buy housing and 20 years ago, nobody wanted to live
there. And most importantly, we really are going down the right
path and making a difference in improving our public school system.
We've ended social promotion, we are creating new classrooms for
less money, we are building schools. I'll give you one number. We
used to build schools for $425 a square foot. The last three schools,
the contracts came in at $300 a square foot. That's an enormous
improvement. We will improve our schools. It is not gonna be easy.
Everybody wants change, but nobody can ever agree on change. I can
tell you I was not elected to look at the polls. I was elected to
make some decisions and put the best people in place. I think we're
doing that, and I think the city shows that. And then, those are
some people that are having some discussions about our school system,
I'm sure. And then for sustenance and inspiration, we have Alexander
Hamilton. And our children and those yet to come here deserve the
same chance he had. And he was a graduate of school system here,
and we're going to give everybody that opportunity. So congratulations
tonight to Bill and Peter Flanagan, and to the late Robert Bartley,
who of all major vendors contributions to New York. And I think
it says an awful lot about the character of this distinguished group
that they are receiving an award named after one of New York's greatest
citizens. Hamilton came here, learned, prospered, debated, and created.
Enemies who called him a bastard. Those were simpler at times. I
had to pay $75 million for the privilege. Thought that would work.
I'm finishing up, for those of you that want to talk. The late great
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was also a past Hamilton award winner.
And I was honored to get to know the Senator, and I appointed him
to the Penn Station redevelopment Corporation before he died, and
his last like everything else Moynihan did, he had a life devoted
to public service, and he did everything he could to help the city.
I'll leave you with a thought. Moynihan was once asked what New
York would look like in 100 years, and he said, "Different,
better, magnificent." And with the spirit of Hamilton, with
the ideas of groups like the Manhattan Institute, and with the hard
work and commitment of every New Yorker once again, I think history
is going to prove him right. Congratulations to everybody, and thank
MR. DAVID BROOKS: Ladies and gentlemen.
First of all, I want to say greetings from the New York Times.
On behalf of the writers and editors of the Times, I'd like
to salute the three great Americans. On behalf of some of the readers
of the New York Times, I like to say "Go to hell you
It's an honor to me to be here to link two heroes of mine, Alexander
Hamilton and Bill Buckley. In Ron Chernow's biography, he says of
Hamilton, that is entire life was a lesson in the profitable use
of time. Well, if there's a living human being today whose life
is a lesson in that profitable use of time, surely, it's Bill Buckley.
I was trying to imagine sharing a vacation beach house with Hamilton
and Buckley. Where you wake up at 10 a.m., Buckley's written six
spy novels. Hamilton's started the Department of the Treasury. As
many of you know, Buckley's literary career actually began in the
period between conception and birth. He wrote three volumes which
are known as the fetal essays. There was first The World Before Buckley,
covering all of human history leading up to his conception, Up From
The Cell, his fetal development, and then Learning to Sail: My Journey
across the Amniotic Fluid, which was his sort of lighthearted romp
through the birthing process. He was born I think in 1925, if memory
serves. Matriculated at Yale the next day. Majored in everything.
And taught his own courses, remarkably. As many of you know, he
edited the Yale Daily News. It was the only period in the
University's history where the YDN came out in Latin. And he's also
quite a popular student. A good friend. He's the only student in
this dorm with a harpsichord in the room. His ability to turn water
into wine added to his popularity at Yale. Then he graduated and
began his career with some controversial books. God and Me at Yale.
God and Me at Home. God and Me Go to the Movies. After Yale, he
became the nation's most important columnist. Founded the preeminent
conservative magazine. Actually, he started two. One called The
National Buckley and The Buckley Review, which he merged to call
The Buckley Buckley. He hosted one of the nation's most important
television talk shows, and beat the crap out of Gorbidal [phonetic]
on national TV. So. There are to my mind, three essential people
in the rise of the American Conservative Movement. Ronald Reagan,
Milton Friedman, and Bill Buckley. One of the things we don't recall,
or maybe younger people don't recall, is that conservatism before
Buckley was a group of a few brilliant but extremely odd human beings.
There were monarchists, medievalists, anarchists. It was a debate
between John Birch and Francisco Franco a lot of the time. And what
Bill did was, he made conservatism American. Created an intellectual
tradition. Which was deeply American, and I truly believe, no Buckley,
no Reagan, none of us here today.
Buckley also made conservatism cool. There's a picture in one of
the biographies of he and Pat at the Stork Club in the '50s or so.
And they looked so cool, sitting there in the Stork Club. It's like
they were our rat pack. He also made conservatism pleasurable. And
this may be his greatest contribution. Walter Batchet [phonetic]
had a great quotation, where he said if you want to spread your
ideas, write a dull policy tracks, it will give your movement a
certain dignity. But if you want to really spread your ideas, experience
and exhibit your pleasures. The pleasures of good music, a good
party, a good dinner. And as many, many people have noticed, Bill's
greatest talent is his talent for friendship. For cultivating friendship,
for keeping friendship, and for inspiring friendship. And for these
reasons, I think his influence shaped the nation's life every single
day. For those of us who came after, and indeed like me who were
discovered by Bill, it's made our lives so much easier to have him
being the ice breaker, and us trailing along behind. And yet he
still keeps going. He's got a new book on the Berlin Wall. Speaking
to Linda Bridges a few minutes ago. He's got another book in Galleys.
So, keep working all the rest of you. He's got his column going.
And so he continues to be a force and an inspiration, and someone
about whom you can really say he did change history. So it's an
honor for me to say to Bill Buckley, I'd you to meet from one founding
father, Alexander Hamilton, I'd like you, to introduce you to you,
another founding father of a different political movement. Thanks
for your service so far. Thank you.
MR. BILL BUCKLEY: Well, Mr. Chairman,
David. I'm glad that I was able, as host of that evening three years
ago to record wholeheartedly my admiration for Robert Bartley. And
my confidence in his successor. Just after Bartley stepped down
as editor of the Wall Street Journal. When I heard the awful
news of his death, my impulse was that of George Aide, when he saw
on the bulletin board of his club in Indianapolis, the notice that
a dear friend had died. He scrolled over. It's always the wrong
person who dies. Which reminds us that possibly, Peter Flanagan,
who says the evening with Bob Bartley and me is also immortal.
death nail for him sounded one year ago when my 20-year-old sloop
Patito defeated his boat in our annual race across Long Island sound.
Now Patito having then nothing further to prove, I sold it. I recall
that Thoreau refined his pencil factory until it had produced the
perfect pencil. Then he sold it. Patito and David Brooks, young
and brilliant members of our fraternity are dear friends, and sometimes
apprentices at National Review.
I'm reminded that the Manhattan Institute reciting with justified
pride its achievements over 25 years, calls to our attention that
the Institute is substantially responsible for welfare reform for
supply side economics, and for school choice. Up against that, what
can I say or do. All that National Review did was discover
America. Time passes and there are always setbacks. I think of this
hotel, when entering its hospitable quarters, of having passed by
it in November, 1968, the floor that was set aside for Richard Nixon,
who had just been elected president of United States, and would
be plotting his administration in this building. No hotel floors
here or anywhere, were set aside for him when he ended his term
of office, which calls to mind that Richard Nixon had weaknesses,
in his case finally disabling. This I think, inside of Manhattan
Institute the weaknesses of the human race are always sad, sometimes
mortal, and forever needing of a public alert to the political implications
of those weaknesses.
On the matter of such weaknesses, I recall that Bishop Joseph Butler
in the 18th-century deliberating the imperfections of life, acknowledged
that if he had created the world, things would have been simply
better. Those weaknesses propel us, and in this, the Manhattan Institute,
is a luminous guide to devise and to stand by institutions and habits
of mine that seek to limit misguided social expressions of such
weaknesses. Even as the police constrain those who give in to their
weaknesses in murder and mayhem. The central political weakness
of modern times is the temptation to cope with weaknesses or compensate
for them, by aggrandizing the statement, multiplying its responsibilities,
and deciding to it that the missions which are beyond its capacities,
these commissions are organically aggressive, and demand a complicity
by everyone. Yes, everyone has to pay taxes to support schools,
even for schooling they would prefer to replace. The Manhattan Institute
established to the satisfaction even of Congress that some of what
had got by as welfare relief had evolved rather toward the stabilization
of weaknesses. What is bilingual education is not a subsidy of weaknesses.
Such weaknesses are of course reflections of individual imperfections,
but they rise to collective levels, as we are seeing the Middle
East. It is too early to say that we are face-to-face with a collective
Iraqi struggle against freedom and self-rule in the entire nation,
but, we are certainly contending against collective knots of men
and women who everyday show their willingness to fight even to the
death, especially the death of others, to resist basic liberal reforms.
The challenge of our coalition in Iraq is to awaken and to stimulate
the desire for ordered freedom, to replace the hypnotic transiencies
of totalitarian and theocratic rule. Grandfather, what long words
you use. While the pier hotel goes on, as princes rise and fall,
yet we are confident of the survival of the ideals we celebrate,
so resourcefully expounded by the Manhattan Institute in its continuing
labors for right reason. I'm honored to be in your company, and
I am myself weak enough to be moved by the kind words of David Brooks,
and the author of the notes about me in the program. Good night,
and thank you.
can't improve much. Kids need freedom to
choose a school. So he created student sponsor partners, which help
people like me mentor a kid. We pay the tuition. I pay the $5,000,
I pay for some other people can afford to pay the 5,000, and you
can be as involved as much or as little in your student's life as
you want. Some just call up when the report card comes in. I'm on
my third student now. Two have done well. But thanks to Peter Flanagan,
thousands of kids in New York City have been lifted out of the government
school of prisons. They've been given opportunity. Because he, one
man, had an idea. And he fought for it. He made it happen. Peter
Flanagan. I should say while he's coming up, I have now joined the
board of his organization, I am new to boards, and there all these
hotshot young investment bankers they're making these decisions.
Peter is now 80 years old. And he attends the meetings. And at some
point in the meeting, he will say, "What's this on page 3,
Subsection 6?" Everyone shuts up and the rest of the meeting,
it's determined that that was the key that had to be addressed,
and Peter does that.
PETER FLANIGAN: Thank you John, for
that very fulsome introduction. And thank you, ladies and gentlemen,
friends of Manhattan Institute et al, for being with us. I couldn't
help wondering, and I'm sure you're wondering how I came to be included
in such illustrious company on this platform. Bob Bartley was a
very dear friend. But more than that, an intellectual mentor. For
30 years, his Wall Street Journal educational page instructed
us on how to think about national issues, on how freedom is best
defended at home and abroad, and why free markets and private property
are the moral expression of man's God-given economic creativity.
So Edith, Bob's wisdom and his memory will always be cherished at
the Manhattan Institute.
Buckley is another very dear friend and mentor. How many of us classical
liberals were stimulated and educated and nourished as young conservatives,
at his national reviews? Me. Well, with me, that stimulation continues
at regular luncheons and sailing adventures from Nova Scotia to
the Bahamas. But on the latter, Bill doesn't engage in full disclosure.
Now, this is one picture of about 600 that he's taken on our sailing
adventures. He in the Patito and me in the Estrella [phonetic].
It's the only one in which the Estrella is behind his Patito. In
fact, the race at which he described, was the sixth in a, this annual
series, was the first one he won, and he sold the boat, so there'd
be no rematch. But Bill, may these adventures, intellectual and
otherwise, long continue.
But the question remains, how did I get up here? Perhaps the reason
is that I learned well from Bob Bartley and Bill Buckley about the
need to fight for and defend freedom. The battleground that I chose
for myself in this fight for freedom is education. Most of America's
children are free. But tragically, many of the most needy and vulnerable
children remain in educational bondage. Dick Gilder, the Hamilton
Award recipient in 2002 does not exaggerate when he says that 150
years ago, we freed our Afro-American citizens, physically. Forty
years ago, with the Voting Rights Act, we freed them politically.
And now to give them the opportunity to fully participate in our
wonderful society, we must free them educationally. I'd venture
that virtually everyone in this room went into a school, either
public or private, chosen by your parents. None of you were trapped
in a dysfunctional school. Yet for our inner city, largely minority,
poor children, that is precisely the fate to which we as a society
condemn them. They must go to schools that all too many cases they
know, simply do not educate. How
do we change it? For 20 years as John Stostle says, we've been trying
to do with money. In New York City, per capita, constant dollar
spending has increased dramatically. Now we have this court-mandated
program to increase the city's already enormous budget from $12
billion to $18 billion. And John, if you divide that by a million
kids, that's $18,000 per student. And that's only for operations.
It doesn't include capital expenses. And yet, with all that money,
inner city test scores and inner city graduation rates have not
budged. What we have not tried, is freedom. Freedom for poor parents
to choose the schools that they think best for their children. And
freedom for those schools that are not chosen to close. Seif Legal
[phonetic], who's here, was the first staff member of the Manhattan
Institute Center for Educational Innovation. And he started the
move to freedom when 25 years ago, he allowed intra-district, public
school choice in New York City's district four. Sister Josephine
and father Victor and Tom Smith, sitting here, run an elementary
school in East Harlem. One of Dr. Hickeys, who's over there, 102
parochial schools, which every parent has chosen for his or her
child. Expenditures per child are less than a third of what the
city spends. But their students outperform the public school students
in the same school districts on the New York State test by an enormous
margin. The children are the same. Their teachers are paid less.
Could not, is not the difference in outcomes a reflection of one
system being based on freedom, and the other system being based
on government diktat?
The student sponsor partners which John mentioned and which Chris
O'Malley sitting over there runs, has had the same dramatic success
with 4,000 poor inner city high school kids, who shows to move from
high-spending public high schools to inner city private schools,
spending one-half as much per student. And his success, measuring,
measured against comparable public by school students, has been
validated by a study by the Rand Corporation. Again, freedom. That
same parental freedom to choose is what distinguishes the two excellent,
beginning with children charter schools, started by Joe and Carol
Rich, right over there. Their first school was born after severe
labor pains as a regular public school. But when the public school
bureaucracy and regulations and labor contracts made success almost
impossible, they converted it to a public charter school and they
started their second school as a charter school from the beginning.
Mary Grace Epin [phonetic] and Kristen Kearns, two exceptional young
women, who cut their educational teeth running the Student Sponsor
Partners several years ago, sitting there, and having learned the
magic of freedom, have also founded charter schools. Kristen's Bronx
Preparatory School, after only four years, is moving into a brand
new building this fall. And Mary Grace, has just chosen, by lottery,
her first 100 students from 300 applications, for the Bronx School
of Excellence. Eternal vigilance, as we know, being the price of
freedom, they and we need to be eternally vigilant that the political
forces do not encroach on the essential freedom of charter public
schools. Be assured, those forces are trying. Our battle for educational freedom has moved us from New York City to New York State to the
nation at large. With Manhattan Institute friends like Roger Hertog
and Bruce Cuvner, Russ Cardens, Tom Tish, and others, we're engaged
across the country through the school choice alliance, which is
dedicated to the proposition that parents should be free to choose
their children's schools. So perhaps I'm before you tonight because
I listened well to Bob Bartley and Bill Buckley as they taught the
blessings of freedom. Being a dutiful student, I've tried with the
help of so many of you in this room, to apply their teaching of
freedom to educational freedom, particularly to the education of
our most needy children. I found that in this endeavor, as in all
endeavors, freedom works. So I thank you for this honor and invite
all of you to continue joining us in the battle for educational
freedom. Thank you.
DICK WEISSMAN: Okay. I'll give them to you. Good evening.
I'm Dick Weissman, chairman of the Manhattan Institute. And I'm
extremely happy and in fact extremely proud, listening to what I've
heard tonight and what you-all have heard tonight, to be here to
end this illustrious and successful evening with a brief thank you
and a farewell. The purpose of this annual event is first, to pay
tribute to Alexander Hamilton, a great man and a great New Yorker,
who in his incandescent lifetime of less than 50 years, conceived
and nurtured many of the financial and other building blocks that
enable our present successful and dynamic society. And as you, I
was about to say, you have to read the book, but now you have the
book, so you really have to read about the book. Ron Chernow's riveting
account of Hamilton's life, I've only read about a quarter of it-is
incredible. We have also convened here tonight to acknowledge and
honor three great contemporary New Yorkers whom you've heard speak
tonight and being honored tonight. Bill Buckley, Peter Flanagan,
and the late Bob Bartley. Each has made an enormous contribution
to the intellectual and civil life of this great city and beyond.
We are most grateful to David Brooks, John Stostle, and Paul Gigot,
for their presence, and eloquence, permitting us to justly and brightly
celebrate the achievements of these three incredible man.
I also know that in assembling here for this momentous occasion,
we should acknowledge and celebrate the Manhattan Institute, as
many you have already done in your comments tonight. But I regard
this as really a unique organization. And I think it's all come
out tonight. It's a powerhouse in effect. It's a galvanic collection
of fellows, trustees, and supporters that has extended its influence
in so many ways. Far beyond its relatively modest size and budget.
For this, we owe thanks to a host of talented and dedicated and
generous individuals. Too many to enumerate at this time, but deserving
of our boundless gratitude. One of them standing right here to my
right. I will however, single out our most able president, Larry
Mohn, and two of our most distinguished and best friends, who sadly,
for reasons of health cannot be with us tonight. Walter Mintz, for
many years our esteemed vice chairman and Walter Riston, our trustee
and perhaps the wisest man in New York. And that's a pretty tough
thing to say in a crowd I'm in now. It was Walter Riston, it was
Walter Riston who expressed the Manhattan Institute's core operating
philosophy the best in my view. He said, we try to keep our staff
small, our ideas big, and the overhead low. Amen.
And now to all of you, and especially to the Pfizer Corporation,
Chuck Hardwick, who's gave us so much support, and you all have
given us tremendous support. You have made this in fact, made this
evening a record for the Manhattan Institute. It has not only been
intellectual success, which is very nice, and a gustatory success,
and our food was very nice, but it's been a huge financial success.
We took in $1,300,000 tonight. And we thank you all very much for
that. So having said that, I'll say thank you for being here, thank
you for supporting us, and just thank you and have a good night
and a safe drive home. Good night.