I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess it’s somewhere in the five figure range. Whatever the amount, Vanderbilt’s IMPACT Symposium is paying it this year to stage a debate between Ann Coulter and Al Sharpton. Why don’t they just host a mud wrestling event instead? They would save a lot of money and the level of intellectual discourse would be just as high.
Now that I think about it, perhaps IMPACT should put a mud pit on stage between them and see what happens? With a bucket or two of falafel added in they could probably even get Bill O’Reilly to referee at no extra charge; Hire James Carville to announce the play-by-play and we’re talking about the political debate of the century.
On a more serious note, IMPACT selected well with its choice of Howard Dean for the primary speaking spot. As with Condoleeza Rice’s Senior Day speech last May, they pulled off the trick of arranging a speaker far in advance who would happen to be big in the news at the time of the event. As an innovative campaigner and newly elected DNC Chair, Dean is exactly the kind of speaker IMPACT should be looking for: someone who’s both provocative and relevant.
Coulter and Sharpton will speak and/or thrash about wildly on March 21st. Dean speaks the next evening. Tickets are $10 for the public.
*Correction: I noticed after writing this entry that Coulter and Sharpton won’t actually be debating. Disappointingly, they will just be giving separate monologues on the same evening. Perhaps even Vanderbilt’s considerable resources were not enough to get Ann to talk to a liberal.