My Wall Street Journal article today on the Jaffa-Berns feud had to be shortened down for page space reasons, which often happens in newspapers, of course. But one of the sacrificed lines was my favorite joke of the piece, which was that Harry Jaffa was relentless, and would always send you another letter if you responded. The only way to get in the last word with Jaffa was either complete capitulation or entering the witness protection program.
Which brings me to one of my other favorite stories that I wasn’t able to work in to any of my tributes. Back in the mid-1980s when I was still in graduate school at Claremont, the chair of the Government department retired. The chair of the History department, Leonard Levy (one of the last of the honorable liberals who wanted the Government department to remain conservative) wrote to Berns asking if he might be interested in coming to Claremont to be the new department chair.
Walter’s reply was succinct and classic:
Thank you for your kind consideration of me. However, at the present time, 3,000 miles separate me and Harry Jaffa. I am not interested in diminishing that distance by a single inch.
Meanwhile, yesterday I talked with Seth Leibsohn of Patriot Radio about Jaffa and the conservative movement. You can listen or download the audio here.