- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 6, 2007

Former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton thanked plenty of people Thursday in accepting the 2007 Bradley Prize, even a few who didn’t have his best interests at heart.

Former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, for example, a Rhode Island Republican “who did so much to make me eligible for this prize,” Mr. Bolton deadpanned. (Mr. Chafee voted against Mr. Bolton remaining in his post last year.)

The annual Bradley Prize ceremony at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater allowed Mr. Bolton and four fellow conservatives to bask in some rare praise and flaunt their fierce, funny intellects.

The prizes were created by the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation to honor great thinkers who foster conservative principles.

The honorees — Mr. Bolton, Martin S. Feldstein, Abigail and Stephen Thernstrom and James Q. Wilson — spoke of their past political awakenings while expressing optimism about today’s troubled times.

And who couldn’t be positive with Grammy winners Aaron Neville and Sandi Patty singing between speeches? It’s hard to imagine anyone not getting goose bumps when the pair belted out “God Bless America” and the entire crowd spontaneously sang along.

Between punch lines, Mr. Bolton spoke about the perils of being a Beltway insider.

“I had my battles with the bureaucracy,” he said, “which explains why I’m here tonight.” Mr. Feldstein, a Harvard University economist, marvelled at how far the world has progressed since he started in his field. He cited fledgling capitalism in both Russia and China, while Mr. Wilson, a public policy expert and authority on crime, decried how too many universities had become beholden to political correctness.

Mrs. Thernstrom, who has worked for years on behalf of racial equality, dubbed the current debate about race “a sorry state of affairs.” Many academics whisper that they agree with her position against affirmative action, she noted, but they won’t join her in taking a public stand.

“That drives me crazy,” she said.

After the ceremony the honorees mixed with guests including columnist and former Bradley Prize winner Charles Krauthammer and former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld (who shook a few hands before darting toward the exit).

It was a night “for conservatives to feel good about each other and their accomplishments,” Bradley Foundation President Michael W. Grebe said, adding that such events help foster the trend.

— Christian Toto

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