Out & About
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Washington – Forget the pomp and circumstance of the presentation of the Bradley Prizes at the Kennedy Center last night. The significance of the event was in the substance of the men honored.
This year’s winners, who received $250,000 cash purses, were the Johns Hopkins University scholar Fouad Ajami, an expert on the Middle East; the economist Hernando de Soto of Lima, Peru, who studies how to implement capitalism; the lawyer Clint Bolick of Phoenix, Ariz., a leader in the fight for school choice, and historian Shelby Steele, a fellow of the Hoover Institution who writes on race relations.
Mr. Ajami – who had the misfortune of being stuck on an Amtrak train without power on his way to Washington from New York – is coming out with a new book in July, “The Foreigner’s Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq” (Free Press), in which he argues that “Iraq is embedded in the wider attempt to reform Arab countries,” he said. Mr. de Soto, the first foreigner to be awarded the Bradley, is working on a book on why business law doesn’t work in developing countries. “That’s the reason China, Russia, Egypt aren’t successes at capitalism,” he said. Instead, the black market dominates. In Egypt, he found that 80% of businesses operate outside the legal system.
Mr. Bolick, who brought his children Ryne and Kali to the event, is working on getting state legislatures to pass school choice programs for disadvantaged children. He said that even in New York, a blue state, school choice is an idea whose time has come.
Mr. Steele is currently touring the country discussing his latest book, “White Guilt” (HarperCollins).
Judges of the awards this year included William Buckley, George Will, and and Charles Krauthammer.
The foundation’s mission includes funding programs that “support limited, competent government.” To many in the room, it was a point of pride that the Bradley Prizes, in their third year, are conservative. “It’s just great fun for everyone in the audience to honor these people, particularly in the face of so many of these programs that ignore conservatives,” the executive director of the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Michael Grebe, said. “There’s a real kick in the air.”
In fact, the Bradley is just one of a handful of conservative-oriented prizes that have sprung up in the past few years, “a trend that is absolutely headed in the right direction,” the editor of City Journal, Myron Magnet, said. These include the Manhattan Institute’s Alexander Hamilton Award and the Bastiat Award. And just yesterday, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute announced an awards program for books and articles exploring “the cultural underpinnings, institutional prerequisites, and societal achievements of the freemarket economy worldwide.”
However, the achievements of the winners stand on their own. As Marie-Josee Kravis, a scholar with the Hudson Institute, said, “I don’t think of the Bradley Foundation as conservative. It’s an organization that recognizes quality.”
“Most of us are trying make this a better country. It just so happens that a lot of conservatives coalesce around good ideas,” a past winner, Ward Connerly, said.
The Hudson Institute’s power breakfast yesterday started promptly at 8:30 a.m. The speaker, Henry Kissinger, delivered 40 minutes of remarks on topics such as nuclear arms in Iran and North Korea and diplomatic relations with Russia – all before even having a sip of coffee. Finally, he paused and made his request (“decaf”), and within three minutes flat, he had one in his hand, delivered by two Four Seasons waiters (one with the coffee, the other with the milk and sugar). Another 30 minutes passed before he sat for breakfast (fruit, scrambled eggs). “One of the remarkable things about Henry is that he puts things in global terms. I think this was a bravura performance, an important one that sets the stage,” the director of the institute, Herbert London, said. Among those attending were Martin Gruss, Laurence Leeds, Henry Buhl, and Carol Anderson Taber.
The American Jewish Committee went all out at its 100th anniversary gala Wednesday night with a ceremonial blowing out of candles on a gigantic sheet cake and confetti falling from the ceiling. The event celebrated a legacy of promoting tolerance, democracy, human rights, Jewish identity, and close relations with Israel.
The challenge, going forward, is “to inspire and excite new generations,” the committee’s executive director, David Harris, said. What appeals to them? “They respond to issues of community service and intergroup relations and they are eager to hear about the link between social justice and their Jewish identity,” he said.
The event raised $7.2 million and gave guests a chance to learn more about the personal dimensions of the honorees, two giants in Jewish philanthropy: Leslie Wexner, who founded the Limited, and Alan Greenberg, who rose in the ranks at Bear Stearns to chairman.
Mr. Wexner said his son, Harry, 10, has ambitions to be president of the United States. “He has good political sense and good people skills,” Mr. Wexner said. Meanwhile, his daughter Hannah, 11, said of her father, “Almost everything I know about being a good person he taught me.”
Mr. Greenberg is apparently a very brief speaker. His friend Samuel Belzberg, who introduced him at the event, said that in his friendship with Mr. Greenberg, their time on the telephone totaled about 12 minutes. Another of his friends, John Rosenwald, made a bet with a guest that Mr. Greenberg’s remarks would not surpass 32 seconds. The guest won the bet – a free dinner – because his remarks clocked in at 4 minutes 15 seconds.