WASHINGTON — Recently the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation put on an awards fete in Washington that turned out to be a stupendous evening. Daniel Rodriguez, the “Singing Cop,” sang. Jennifer Holliday sang and danced. The Foundation itself gave awards, four in all, each worth $250,000, to public persons whose “achievementsï¿½are consistent with the mission statement of the foundation, including the promotion of liberal democracy, democratic capitalism, and a vigorous defense of American institutions.”
The awardees were indeed worthy of distinction. Applying objective standards to George Will’s writing, the scholarship of Robert George and Heather Mac Donald, and Ward Connerly’s public service leaves each individual elevated above the rank and file. Yet, I noted a sniffiness in the major media’s reportage of the event. The point seemed to be that this was all very self-congratulatory of the conservatives.
So now we shall sit back and watch the rest of this season’s awards ceremonies. We have already seen Hollywood at work with its Oscars and Grammys. Soon we shall see the Pulitzers and the National Book Awards. All these awards have become orgies of onanism. Some would say they are laced with liberal prejudice. My only objection to that observation would be that what passes for liberalism in America today is not very liberal. It is a chaos of tortured, incoherent conceits. It is better described as political correctness, PC.
Whatever one calls the value system that supports these other awards, the awards themselves have become very political. If one does not share the political values of their bestowers, one is not very likely to be recognized. That is why the Bradley Awards are important. They recognize the achievements of a new political order, the libertarian conservative order that is sweeping the world. The tectonic plates of history have shifted. Free markets, free minds, democracy, and at least in the case of the Bradley Awards intellectual excellence compose the New Order. The adherents to the PC culture are befuddled and angry. This historic shift has left them without a clue.
In a new biography of that giant of the Old Order, John Kenneth Galbraith, the obliviousness of the Old Order to history’s latest turn is on wondrous display. In reviewing John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics, one Will Hutton in the American Prospect, an archaeological dig of PC thought, writes: “The story of our times is the ongoing rise of American conservatism.” Hutton laments that Galbraith has no successor. He, like Galbraith’s biographer, is mystified as to why an economist of Galbraith’s persuasion has not gained “stature” today. The thought that Galbraith is passï¿½ because Galbraith’s economic and political positions failed never is even considered by reviewer or biographer. Both agree free markets and growth economics are ascendant solely because of the “power” of corporations.
“The ongoing rise of conservatism” is a con. Every PC reviewer of this book agrees on that. What they are living through is not a period of sound economic growth. Rather it is, as Hutton writes, “the rise of a set of economic theorems palpably false and obviously self-serving.” So the economic growth ushered in by Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts is a fraud. So is the spread of democracy and the collapse of Marxist-Leninist tyranny. Doubtless there will one day be hell to pay for the democracy arising in the Middle East.
As I say, the PC adepts of the Old Order are obliviousness. They will continue to whoop it up for their passing heroes. They will confer awards on their present paladins of virtue, Michael Moore, Dr. Howard Dean, and forget not, the former Enron adviser, economic visionary, and scold of corporate power, Paul Krugman. That last fellow has to be an economic genius. Everything he says about economics is ignored by government and by entrepreneurs. Enter that brontosaurus in the Kentucky Derby.
So if one wants to get a sense of the drift of our time forget this season’s awards series, unless, of course, one is discussing the Bradley Awards. They go to the perpetrators of the New Order.