Principalities & Powersrnbv Samuel FrancisrnIn Search of ImpulsesrnSome years ago, there was a scries onrnAmerican television called In SearchrnOf. . . , a documentary show that everyrnweek embarked upon some intrepidrnquest “in search of” such titillating arcanarnas the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot,rn[‘lying Saucers, tablerapping, and peoplernwho turn into giant mushrooms inrnthe dark of the moon. William F. BuckleyrnJr. probably never watched the series,rnbut it is impossible to think of hisrnmost recent book. In Search of Anti-rnSemitism, without being reminded of it,rnand not only because of the similarityrnof the titles.rnHis book, of course, is the hardcoverrnincarnation of the mammoth article thatrndevoured the entirety of the Decemberrn30, 1991, issue of National Review and arnportion of its March 16, 1992, number,rn”hi Search of Anti-Semitism” (the article)rnwas an examination of the “eases” ofrnvarious individuals who had been accusedrnof anti-Semitism in the recentrnpast—specifically, Joseph Sobran, Mr.rnBuckley’s “close friend” and colleaguernat National Review; the DartmouthrnReview, an undergraduate magazine;rncolumnist and commentator Patrick J.rnBuchanan; and novelist Gore Vidal. Afterrnwinding his way through the publishedrnremarks that had instigated thernaccusations, the accusations themselves,rnand the defenses offered by the accusedrnand their supporters, Mr. Bucklcvrnreached arious conclusions and offeredrnsundry meditations of his own in eachrninstance.rnAll of this would ordinarily have beenrnno more remarkable than the yachtingrnbooks and spy novels that have consumedrnmost of Mr. Buckley’s literaryrnenergies in recent years. His expositionrnof the “facts” in each “case” seems tornhave consisted largely of reprintingrnwhole columns and articles that had alreadyrnbeen published elsewhere. Withrnthe exception of long excerpts from arnfew letters of Mr. Sobran and others thatrnhad not been previously available, Mr.rnBuckley had little new information tornimpart, and what he did unbosom wasrnnot especially enlightening. Moreover,rnsince the controversies as well as some ofrnthe controversialists had generally exhaustedrnthemselves already, it was notrnclear why any of these unpleasantriesrnneeded to be resurrected.rnBy a curious conjuncture of events,rnhowever, it so happened that Mr. Buckley’srnarticle appeared almost immediatclvrnafter news of Mr. Buchanan’s plansrnto run for President struck the headlines,rnand it was this conjuncture that createdrnthe controversies that ensued. To manyrnof Mr. Buchanan’s supporters, it lookedrnas though Mr. Buckley had deliberatelyrnattacked him on the very eve of his campaign,rnand indeed some sources at NationalrnReview have acknowledged thatrnthe publication date of Mr. Buckley’s articlernwas moved up to coincide with Mr.rnBuchanan’s announcement. Hence,rnthere was, to say the least, a good deal ofrnbitter feeling toward Mr. Buckley on thernpart of the Buchananites, as well as,rnamong many conservatives, a generalrnnausea instilled by Mr. Buckley’s unwillingnessrnto let the supposititious LochrnNess Monster of anti-Semitism rest inrnits watery lair.rnMr. Buckley’s conclusion as to thern”case” of Mr. Buchanan was not that therneolumnist-turned-candidate was or is anrnanti-Semite, a term Mr. Buckley neverrndefined, but merely that “I |Mr. Buckley]rnfind it impossible to defend PatrnBuchanan against the charge that whatrnhe did and said during the period underrnexamination amounted to anti-rnSemitism, whatever it was that drovernhim to say and do it: most probabh’, anrniconoclastic temperament.” Predictably,rnMr. Buckley’s conclusions supplied amplernammunition for both neoeonservativernand Republican as well as left-wingrnguns aimed at Mr. Buchanan in the primaryrncampaign, and it soon became evidentrnthat, whatever his motivations, Mr.rnBuckley had struck a blow against a majorrnpolitical effort and a major personalityrnof the American right. Mr. Buckleyrnand National Review then spent a goodrnpart of the primary season last vearrntrving to retreat from, explain, andrnminimize the damage they had done,rneven to the point of endorsing Mr.rnBuchanan’s presidential efforts. Thesernmaneuvers won them only additionalrncriticism, this time from Mr. Buchanan’srnenemies among neoconservatives andrnJewish liberals. Questions (and morernthan questions) were raised about Mr.rnBuckley’s own attitudes about Jews, andrnthe New York Times’ Abe Rosenthal wentrnso far as to say that National Review itselfrn”now is wan and pockmarked withrnthe disease” of “moral equivalency” inrnits view of anti-Semitism. It was clearrnthat Mr. Buckley had blundered, committingrnperhaps the most serious andrnharmful mistake of his career.rnSo much for the background of thernoriginal article and the reactions to it,rnreactions that in retrospect seem inevitablerngiven Mr. Buckley’s reckless,rnpoorly defined, and actually evasive invocationrnof the potentially ruinous offensernof anti-Semitism. It is all very wellrnto say, as National Review did say somernmonths later during the magazine’s bailoutrnoperation, that “neither NationalrnReview nor its Editor-at-Large has expressedrnthe view that Patrick Buchananrnis an anti-Semite”; but to live on the differencernbetween an explicit accusationrnand Mr. Buckley’s ambiguous, andrnsomewhat giggly, “I find it impossiblernto defend,” etc., is simply disingenuous,rnif not outright irresponsible. If Mr.rnBuchanan is an anti-Semite, Mr. Buckleyrnshould have said so. If he is not,rnthen he should have said that. If Mr.rnBuckley couldn’t tell, then either hernhadn’t done enough research and ruminationrnon the question or else mavbcrnthe whole question was not worth pursuingrnin the first place.rnOne would have thought that Mr.rnBuckley’s blunder might have taughtrnhim something, but evidently it has not,rnwhich brings me to my present theme.rnTurning to the footnote on page 170 ofrnIn Search of Anti-Semitism (the book), Irndiscover that Mr. Buckley has once againrnlaunched a reckless accusation of anti-rnSemitism. This time his target is me.rnExplicitly, Mr. Buckley accuses me ofrn”anti-Semitic impulses” and of exhibitingrnan “orientation” toward the mostrnbanal Judeophobie delusions. The wholernfootnote, while it does not merit publicationrnat all, needs to be reprinted andrnconsidered in some depth;rnA classic example of what anti-rnSemitic impulses do to a workingrnmind is seen in an editorial publANUARYrn1993/9rnrnrn