Last night was a truly memorable occasion, for a great many reasons. I debated Michael Malice on the following resolution: “Alexander Hamilton was a hero for the cause of liberty.” Michael argued in the affirmative; I argued in the negative. It was an Oxford-style debate, which means the audience was polled beforehand and then again after the debate. The winner is whichever debater moved more people in his direction. By that standard, I was the winner.
Before the debate, the numbers were:
16% for the resolution;
After the debate, the numbers were:
26% for the resolution;
I am told that this was the largest shift in opinion that the Junto (the sponsoring organization) has had since they began sponsoring these Oxford-style debates.
I hasten to add that this outcome is not a reflection on the debating skills of Michael Malice. He is in fact an excellent debater, and I had to bring my A-game to keep up with him. He made the very best case that a libertarian could make for Hamilton. I’m not ashamed to point out that I learned some new things about Hamilton last night, things that did in fact raise the man a bit in my estimation. But the negatives are just overwhelming, and I guess the audience thought so, too.
Another interesting statistic: according to moderator Gene Epstein of Barron’s, this was the biggest turnout the Junto has ever had for a debate.
I was very happy to see quite a few luminaries in attendance, including Cato Institute Senior Fellow Jim Powell, investor and former Foundation for Economic Education president Mark Skousen, and Ed Stringham, Davis Professor of Economic Organizations and Innovation at Trinity College.
The biggest surprise of the night came as Michael Malice first began to speak. He introduced a special guest I was not expecting. I often like to bring one or two of my kids to my events, and I was telling them how much I wished their mother could be in attendance at the debate. But of course she has to watch the children, and balance many other things. And yet who walked down the aisle as Michael’s special guest, but Heather Woods.
For nearly an hour before the debate began, Michael kept insisting that I was not prepared for what was about to take place. I thought he was just trying to psych me out. But he was right — I was not prepared to see Heather make a grand entrance! She’d secretly flown to New York to be there. It was amazing. This was my actual reaction as she walked in:
I’ll be posting the video as soon as I have it, and the audio will constitute an episode of the Tom Woods Show in the very near future. Michael and I plan to do a debriefing episode very soon as well.
And now, for the funniest part: Michael, being a celebrity ghostwriter, is an expert at capturing a subject’s voice. These fake Donald Trump tweets, which sound exactly like Trump, were running in the background one at a time throughout Michael’s opening statement. (In case you don’t get the joke, I live in Kansas.)