2021 Baron Award to T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr.
Annual BARON AWARD Presentation
Spring Meeting, The Philadelphia Society, Worthington Renaissance Hotel, Fort Worth – March 27, 2021
Members and guests – I had planned to open with “Ladies and gentlemen,” but Lenore tells me that is too binary, so we’ll go with the more epicene “members and guests” – it is my privilege to present The Philadelphia Society’s Baron Award for 2021. The Baron Award has been established to recognize annually (or almost annually, barring global plagues) that member of The Philadelphia Society who most faithfully exemplifies, in word and deed, the good fellowship, personal loyalty, intellectual integrity, and moral courage of our late beloved friend and colleague, John Von Kannon.
The 2021 recipient of the Baron Award has been described in many ways.
“A fantastic liar!” That, by Society President M. Stanton Evans.
“A great monster!” That, by Clare Booth Luce.
And even, “a regular Robespierre.” That, by his own mother!
With friends like that . . . .
There have, of course, been some kinder references. The family poet, our recipient’s grandmother, penned this stanza when he was about five years old:
My little Kenny, shy and grave,
Poring o’er his tales of brave
Sir Arthur and his knights of old,
His heroes always strong and bold.
It’s possible that some of you may remember a time when Ken Cribb was shy; I do not. And his gravity has been displayed in later days only as needed. Lucky for us and very lucky for his country, shy and grave Kenny has become one of the heroes strong and bold.
T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr., has been, for over half a century now, a leader in service to the ideals on which The Philadelphia Society was founded. From his undergraduate days with The Intercollegiate Studies Institute at Washington & Lee, to his position as national director of ISI under Vic Milione, to his appointments as deputy and counselor to Ed Meese in both the White House and the Justice Department, to his time as President Reagan’s chief domestic policy advisor, to his long tenure as president of ISI, to his terms as president of The Philadelphia Society and on the boards (still) of the Federalist Society and the Scaife Foundation, there has been no one more active than he, either in academia or in public life, in the revival and defense of the understanding and appreciation of civilized freedom.
Ken has never been exclusively one stripe of conservative. Both traditionalist and libertine – uh, libertarian – he is fusionism incarnate. More importantly, he is an exemplar of “the unbought grace of life,” a connoisseur of the sublime reflections of transcendent glory that the freedom of the West has allowed it to bring to light.
He is, and, throughout his life, has been, both student and teacher. In his younger days, he would conjure with the names of his mentors: Russell Kirk, Mel Bradford, Gerhart Niemeyer, Forrest McDonald, Bill Buckley, Stan Evans, Ronald Reagan, Ed Meese, Nino Scalia. Now, the list with which the rising generation evokes its own magic includes Ken’s name as well – in no small measure because each of those earlier names owes much of its own legacy to Kenny’s incredible intellect and energy. We all owe him more than we know, more than we can say, more than we can repay.
As important as any of Ken’s prodigious talents is his great gift for friendship and camaraderie. A couple of years ago, in a crowd of folks from many different stages of his life, gathered to celebrate Ken’s 70th birthday, I included this in my toast:
That so many different people from so many different times and places of his life would come together to mark this anniversary of his natal day is a sign of his unrivaled capacity for lasting friendship. I don’t know anyone of whom more people say, “He’s my closest, my dearest, my best friend.”
Like many of us individually, this Society has no closer, dearer, or better friend. He is wonderfully deserving of this award named for his old colleague and buddy, John von Kannon – the “Baron.” The 2021 Baron Award is inscribed: “T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr. – Statesman, Mentor, Colleague, and Friend.” Kenny, if you would, please come forward to receive the award.
Remarks delivered by Steve A. Matthews