From a new published paper (Constitutional Political Economy, January 2014) by Roger Congleton on Buchanan´s Constitutional Political Economy. A draft is here (October 2013).
Buchanan’s belief, as noted at the beginning of this essay, was that all ideas are open to challenge and that a scholar has a moral obligation to figure things out for himself. Thus, he was duty bound to work out his own framework. Those of his colleagues who were also interested in grand frameworks, usually wrote and thought more slowly; so they could work out only a small subset of the detailed arguments necessary to support their visions. Buchanan’s speed allowed him to paint with a broad brush like an expressionist, but also like a patient pointillist, carefully creating independent finely grained points that together added up to a broad, impressive, substantially new, and very important vision.
This was in large part because, as Admiral Spruance said, Buchanan was “mighty fast and fairly accurate.” He was fast enough to cover enormous ground, modest enough to claim that little of it was perfect, yet, he was always sufficiently accurate to be of broad interest. Bootstrapping, combined with Buchanan’s creative, fast pen and interest in fundamental issues made the result unusually broad, deeply rooted, fine grained, and internally consistent—in a word, awesome. (p. 35).