i went back and actually watched the full 1992 buchanan speech, embedded below. everyone might think the republican party is moving right, but this speech would be unimaginable this year. he just goes straight at gay rights, for example. it's quite disturbing from this angle. it's also remarkably gracious to bush, a model of the heal-the-party genre.
however, it is a remarkable text and a remarkable performance. this was one of the few times in this era that the speechwriter emerged from behind the curtain. certainly buchanan had minted priceless phrases for agnew and nixon. here he issues an incredible string of alliterative aphorisms. and he wrote them all himself: that's why he delivers them with such ownership and conviction. i'm sure obama is capable of writing a speech; i don't know how frequently he does. they certainly have that collaborative feel these days: written by committee, though no doubt a better committee than romney's. we'll see next week.
to a large extent, the american presidency is an expressive office, and to a large extent the expression consists of words, though of course it is multi-dimensional. but the words are too rarely his own, so the role and the person come apart in a disturbing way: a form of pervasive inauthenticity.