The House of Jaffa by John J. Miller

John J. Miller, National Review, July 1, 2013.


Jaffa is one of the most famously cantankerous intellectuals in America — and when he takes a special interest in a person, it doesn’t always remain as amiable as it did with Whitis. This is especially true for fellow conservatives. “If you think Harry Jaffa is hard to argue with, try agreeing with him,” quipped William F. Buckley Jr. in the foreword to one of Jaffa’s books. “He studies the fine print in any agreement as if it were a trap, or a treaty with the Soviet Union.” At various times, Jaffa has lit into such right-of-center heavyweights as Willmoore Kendall, Irving Kristol, and George Will. The more they had in common, the more contentious the disputes seemed to run. “I do not mean to be gentle with you,” Jaffa once wrote in an open letter to Walter Berns, another conservative scholar. “In your present state of mind, nothing less than a metaphysical two-by-four across the frontal bone would capture your attention.” An annoyed Berns later retorted: “Who will rid us of this pest of a priest?”

National Review