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above: George Carey

Remembering the Right

Remembering George Carey

Defender of Constitutional Morality

George Carey arrived at Georgetown University in 1961, the same year that I did. He was a young professor teaching courses on American government when I was a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, where he taught. My first experience with him as a student was notably unpleasant. Taking his first exam, I went completely blank. I then visited Professor Carey, hat in hand, and asked him if I could do anything to make up for my failure. He graciously allowed me to write a paper to compensate for that embarrassing performance.

My grade for the semester was salvaged, and I never had a problem with any of Professor Carey’s exams thereafter. After a few months of his lectures on the American Founding, he also turned me into a lifelong admirer of his work. Then, and in the decades to follow, he convincingly made the case for the constitutional morality of the founding, as embodied in its political bible, The Federalist Papers.

After Carey’s death in 2012, The American Conservative’s editorial staff paid him tribute, offering a “Farewell to a Constitutional Conservative.” At that time, Bruce Bartlett, one of the architects of Reaganomics, observed: 

A true conservatism…the conservatism of people like George Carey will come back to life someday… because it is rooted in the nature of society and human nature itself. Someday the fever will break...

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