Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who was president of Brazil from 1994 to 2002, was awarded the Kluge Prize last week. The Kluge “recognizes and celebrates work of the highest quality and greatest impact in areas that advance understanding of the human experience” and is administered by the Library of Congress. It’s a fitting reward for one of the great statesmen and thinkers of our age.The Kluge prize recognizes leaders who are influential in fields not normally recognized by the Nobel Prize, like history and politics. Previous winners (there are only eight including Cardoso) include historians and sociologists.Cardoso’s prize is well deserved. He killed Brazilian inflation (or at least put it to sleep for a while), solidified democracy and the rule of law, promoted assistance to the poor and did more than any other Brazilian president before him to fight racial injustice and call attention to Brazil’s South Africa-style disparities in racial incomes. Via Meadia congratulates him.Not long ago, I interviewed Fernando Henrique as most Brazilians call him in the American Interest. He’s a serious intellectual of the old school — a sociologist from the days when sociology was a cutting edge discipline grounded in the humanities. His example shows how personal courage, a spacious and strong mind, compassion for the poor and political insight can combine to promote serious change. It’s always fun to watch the good guys win.