ON-Lion Letter
The 2007 Bradley Prize recipients' acceptance remarks, delivered during a celebratory ceremony on May 3 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., reflected the principles and determination of the honorees.   

At times very funny, at other times quite serious, the five recipients were each grateful to be given the Prizes, thanked those who helped them achieve that which the honors recognize, and inspired others to similarly dedicate themselves to furthering the principles promoted by them.

Edited transcripts of their acceptance remarks are all now available online.

In Prize recipient John R. Bolton's remarks, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said, "On many occasions, during this and prior Administrations, knowingly and willfully, I have committed acts of conservatism.  It gets worse.  I enjoyed every minute of it."

Bolton concluded on a serious note, though, by imploring, "We must find ways to avoid the seduction of the permanent bureaucracy; to remind appointees that fighting bureaucratic turf fights is not why conservative Presidents are elected; and above all, to make their government service philosophically productive."

Economist Martin Feldstein, in his remarks, recounted the "unprecedented revolution in economic thinking and practice" since he took his first economics class at Harvard College 50 years ago, most prominently including the end of communism in the Soviet Union and China.  "It is important to continue to make progress," Feldstein urged, "in strengthening incentives and in revising government policies that would otherwise raise tax rates and reduce the growth of real incomes."

In her time at the podium, Prize recipient and civil-rights scholar Abigail Thernstrom recalled her and her husband Stephan's ideological journey from left to right and said, "People often say to us, you are so courageous.  That's nonsense.  We say what we believe because that's what intellectual are supposed to do, a point much of the conformist academy can't seem to remember. ...

"Why is intellectual combat so scary?  Indeed," she continued, "what' so terrifying about standing alone if you are standing by your convictions."

In his time, Harvard historian Stephan Thernstrom then added that without "the first left-leaning phase of my intellectual journey, ... I probably would never have pursued the subject of my first two books, social class and social mobility in American history.  I derived worthwhile research questions from the Marxist literature, although the evidence that I assembled led me to distinctly un-Marxist conclusions.  America is, and always has been, a country of great opportunity ...."

Social scientist James Q. Wilson offered some insightful observations about the state of the academy, the polarization of politics, and the blessings of philanthropy in America in his remarks.  Wilson fittingly capped the evening by saying, "I'm optimistic about the future of this country -- optimistic on behalf of my children and my grandchildren."
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