That was a nifty, albeit subtle, hatchet job Howard Kurtz did on Pat Buchanan in the Sept. 20 Style section. There is just enough good stuff in the story to allow Kurtz to claim fair play. But look closer.

Paragraph one tells us that Buchanan is a scofflaw, willing to do battle with cops 30 years ago, as if that were relevant. Then we see a line about his "impassioned defense of accused Nazi war criminals." Then comes an allusion to "what had mostly been Washington whispers" about his alleged antisemitism. Then we get Elie Wiesel, identified as a Holocaust survivor for those few who don't recognize the name, saying that Buchanan comes "very close" to being an antisemite.

Conservative columnist Mona Charen is shown to worry that, while she doesn't think Buchanan is antisemitic, "there's enough evidence to ask him why he's so angry about Jews." Buchanan's sole all-out defender in Kurtz's story, columnist Robert Novak, is allowed to call the vitriolic attack on Buchanan by New York Times columnist Abe Rosenthal "outrageous" and "in the category of McCarthyism." Kurtz does not mention that Novak is Jewish.

But before we hear from Novak, we are reminded that GQ magazine refers to Buchanan's "Nazi problem." Allan Ryan Jr., former head of the Justice Deptartment's Nazi-hunting unit, then tells us, "Buchanan is the spokesman for Nazi war criminals in America. His campaign on behalf of these people is ... infused with distortions and misrepresentations."

Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman is allowed to charge Pat with "baiting Jews ... Over the last 10 years he has worn the hat of Holocaust revisionist, defender of convicted Nazi war criminals and Israel-basher." There is no one quoted in Buchanan's defense against these charges.

Along with labeling Buchanan a cop-fighter, Kurtz tossed in other irrelevancies to let us know that Buchanan is not one of us. He's rich, Kurtz told us; he makes $500,000 a year and lives in a million-dollar house in posh McLean.

He's a Catholic -- a "curious mixture of Roman Catholic fervor and street-corner aggression" who is also, in the words of "Jewish scholar" Leon Wieseltier a "hater" who, Wieseltier adds, is probably antisemitic because he is a religious Catholic. We learn also, by inference at least, that part of Buchanan's problems can be traced to his father, "an authoritarian who periodically beat him with a belt, also {horrors} passed on his admiration for Joe McCarthy."

So now we know Buchanan is a rich, antisemitic hater who is also a Catholic zealot, a street fighter and a Joe McCarthy fan, thanks to his father, who beat him regularly. Why shucks, he's got almost as much going against him as wealthy Jews such as Abe Rosenthal who overreact and read bigotry into any criticisms because of what their people went through during the Holocaust and to a lesser extent for the past 2,000 years.

The Rosenthals of this world are a little like most politicians: If you're not with them, you're against them. Perhaps that makes Rosenthal's and his cohorts' vicious attacks on Buchanan understandable; it doesn't make them acceptable. -- Lyn Nofziger The writer is a former White House aide.

Now that Howard Kurtz has treated us to a catalogue of big, bad Pat Buchanan's foibles, faults, follies and other peccadilloes irrelevant to the feud at hand, can we expect a similar rundown of Abe Rosenthal's virtues on these pages in the near future? -- Rosaline Thorne

In his article, Howard Kurtz mentioned a "Polish camp where the SS trained prison guards for Treblinka." There was no such thing as "Polish camps," much less any Poles in the SS, as Kurtz seemed to imply. Poland did not exist during most of the years of World War II, except in the underground and in exile.

As to Treblinka, it was established in German-occupied Poland in 1941 by the SS, Gestapo and police head Heinrich Himmler in what was formerly a village of 350 on the left bank of the Bug River. Treblinka I was reserved exclusively for ethnic Poles, more than 7,000 of whom were killed out of tens of thousands incarcerated there. Treblinka II was established in 1942 and functioned through 1943. Some 750,000 inmates, mostly Jews, were murdered there. -- Zdzislaw M. Rurarz