- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

A million dollars will be shared by a quartet of conservatives who have left their mark on the nation in the past year, courtesy of the Bradley awards.

“That’s $250,000 each, no strings attached,” Michael W. Grebe, president of the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, said yesterday.

On May 25, the philanthropic group will take over the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for a night to recognize the four scholars, journalists or activists most attuned to the mission to uphold American democratic capitalism. It will be a bona fide hoopla. Mr. Grebe calls the event “our own Oscar night,” and a tad “over the top.”

But not enough to attract the mainstream press, apparently.

“It has been frustrating, even remarkable, how the establishment media has chosen to comment on similar prizes given by Teresa Heinz Kerry, but not by the Bradley Foundation,” Mr. Grebe said.

Each of the awards originates in family fortunes, one based on ketchup and the other on innovation. Brothers Lynde and Harry Bradley went into business together in 1903, specializing in industrial automation. The foundation was formed in 1985, bolstered by a $700 million startup fund and a clear mission — to support conservative intellectual infrastructure, educational reform, faith-based philanthropy, a spate of cultural groups and public diplomacy.

“We’d like to see the restoration of some programs dismantled during the Clinton administration, such as Radio Free Europe,” Mr. Grebe said.

This marks the third year for the Bradley Prizes, shared in recent years by columnists Thomas Sowell, Charles Krauthammer and George F. Will; American Civil Rights Institute Chairman Ward Connerly; Princeton University professor Robert P. George and Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald.

The vetting process is not easy. Nominations come from 100 heavyweight opinion leaders across the country who are tasked with parsing out “whose ideas and works have promoted democracy, capitalism and vigorously defended American institutions,” Mr. Grebe said.

It’s all an effort to keep in step with current ideological dynamics, “part of the long march of conservatism,” as Mr. Grebe put it.

“Conservatism has some serious fissures in it, which deserve close attention. We try to be ecumenical; we support a number of aspects of the conservative movement — partial libertarians, neocons, paleocons, the con-cons. We take a broad view,” he said, grinning.

Judges will winnow down award nominees in April; in past years, the judging panel has included former Republican Sen. William L. Armstrong of Colorado, former Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork and National Review founder William Buckley. The process is not without heart-wrenching moments, however.

“With only four winners, you leave out a long list of very deserving people,” Mr. Grebe said.

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