Editor's Note: The exclusive Philadelphia Society, which the New York Times called "a prestigious club for conservative intellectuals," had its forty-first annual meeting in Miami this past weekend. National Review, in its better days, reported on these events. Given the current state of NR, one of our operatives was there to report on the goings-on. Following is a recap of the proceedings.
The theme for this year's national meeting was "What is an American?", a subject given new currency because of Samuel Huntington's new book Who Are We: The Challenges to America's National Identity, as well as conservative outcry over accession of neocon Midge Decter to the presidency of the Society. Victoria Hughes, of the Bill of Rights Institute, was chosen as the new president for the upcoming year.
After the opening reception, the dinner's keynote speaker, Victor David Hanson, mounted an unsuccessful half-hour campaign to stimulate and amuse an unsurprisingly sympathetic audience. His target of opportunity was missed. In Who Killed Homer?, V.D.H. wrote in moving and elegiac prose about the rapidly declining interest in the classics among students at his university. Having sat through his speech, perhaps the problem wasn't with the students, but with V.D.H. himself. Indeed, the speech was a monotonous and derivative rehash of his earlier works on why American students have lost a sense of American identity. His answer to the problem? They should study more American history.
Saturday's luncheon was the highlight of the weekend. Lee Edwards, Philadelphia Society past president and the conservative movement's preeminet historian, introduced the venerable and legendary M. Stan Evans. Stan Evans is the Man. Evans is the founder of the National Journalism Center, whose alums include John Fund, Ann Coulter, and Michael Gladwell. His lunchtime talk was an extended meditation on "Evans' Law of Inadequate Paranoia," which reads: "No matter how bad you think something is, when you look at it, it’s always worse." (As an aside, other Evans maxims include "You can't always count on your friends, but you can always count on your enemies," "Once we get our people into power they stop being our people," and "I had no respect for Nixon until Watergate.")
Evans talked about his forthcoming book Blacklisted By History : The Real Story of Joseph McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies, which confirms and supplements everything in this book.
After lunch, a panel on immigration featured Prof. Andrew Yuengert of Pepperdine, Benjamin "Doogie Hoswer, Ph.D." Powell, and author Peter Brimelow. Brimelow is an English immigrant who warned against the dangers of immigration. Another panel called E Pluribus Unum featured Linda Chavez of the Center for Equal Opportunity, the cool and ever-entertaining Barry Shain of Colgate University, and rock-ribbed Old Right paleocon Prof. Forrest McDonald. (Interestingly, McDonald mentioned that Patrick Buchannan convinced Russel Kirk to become anti-immigration.) If anything, there was a notable lack of controversy among the panelists.
While attendance was not as big as for last year's fortieth anniversary celebration in Chicago, many regulars were present (Edward Hudgins, Washington Director of the Objectivist Center, Gene Meyer, Exec. Director of the Federalist Society, Linda Bridges of National Review, Timothy Goeglin, Special Assistant to the President--W's emissary to the Movement--Edwin Fuelner, President of the Heritage Foundation, and Ed Meese).
New faces included this year's Prom King and Queen of the Christian Right--the beautiful Michelle Rickert (the new Dean of Admissions at Liberty University Law School), and her cop-turned-academic husband Paul Rickert, Professor of Criminal Justice at Liberty University's [Jesse] Helms School of Government--and Hiro Aida, Washigton Bureau Chief of the Kyodo News.