‘The Speech’ and the original culture warrior

Point for point, was Buchanan’s much maligned speech right or wrong? Even if these developments were not all realized under Clinton, he incubated them. Obama hatched them.

Twenty-one years ago at the 1992 Republican Convention, Pat Buchanan delivered what is now called his “culture war” speech. Buchanan, you will recall, had challenged George H. W. Bush for the GOP nomination, winning 38 percent of the New Hampshire primary vote and garnering a total of 3 million votes from all the primary elections.

This surprise showing won Buchanan a speaking slot at the ‘92 convention which re-nominated Bush and Dan Quayle. In his address, Buchanan said of Bill and Hillary Clinton, “The agenda of Clinton and Clinton would impose on Americans abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, and women in combat — that’s change all right. But it is not the kind of change we can abide in a nation we can still call God’s country.”

Before the next speaker could get to the podium, the national press was labeling Buchanan intolerant. Ingratiating themselves to the national press, many of Buchanan’s fellow Republicans attacked him for being divisive. Moderate Republicans got nervous, claiming the speech would alienate undecided voters.

Moderate Republicans are always nervous about something. What had really already frayed their nerves was the campaign leading up to the convention. During the primaries, Buchanan, consistent to the core and always loyal to his convictions, had emphasized social conservatism and opposition to multiculturalism, abortion and gay rights. Never squishy, he ran on the same platform when he challenged Bob Dole for the nomination in 1996.


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