Presidential Lessons Learned From the Past

The column ``Wilson's Lessons for Clinton,'' May 19, was right on the mark. Both Woodrow Wilson and Bill Clinton assumed office as liberal democrats whose party had not occupied the White House for many years. Both were elected in three-way races with less than a popular majority.

In 1913 as in 1993, the new president recognized that there would be a need to restructure his party and redirect its goals. Each saw his election as a mandate for change. In his first inaugural address President Wilson said, ``No one can mistake the purpose for which the nation now seeks to use the Democratic Party. It seeks to use it to interpret a change in its plans and point of view.''

Like Clinton, Wilson made several important commitments during the election campaign. While Clinton's were debt reduction, health-care reform, and job creation, Wilson's were tariff reduction, banking and currency reform, and a more effective regulation of business monopolies. All were intended to improve the lot of the middle class.

When it comes time for Clinton to champion health-care reform, it might be instructive for him to review some of Wilson's early battles. While most would concede that Clinton like Wilson is dedicated to improving the nation's welfare, it is not clear that when the going gets rough he will be willing to battle for his program against the lobbies that will be in opposition.

Wilson never relented until he achieved all three of his goals. Compromise was not in his nature. He undoubtedly paid for this in his second term when he attempted to have the United States enter the League of Nations.

The present-day world turmoil seems tame compared with the struggle that had broken out in Europe in 1914, but Wilson was not deterred from his domestic agenda while he maintained a consistent policy of neutrality in the European war.

Clinton's main problem in Bosnia is his seeming inconsistency. It is too soon to pass judgment on a new administration. Most Americans wish him well, but time is running out and it must be demonstrated that important political lessons are now being learned. Andrew E. Gibson, Short Hills, N.J. Asst. Sec. of Commerce, 1969-72 Circus is no laughing matter

Regarding the article ``Even Blase New Yorkers Cheer the Circus,'' June 17: The author presents merely the superficial pageantry of the circus. Glitz disguises the fact that circus animals are captives made to perform unnatural, often painful acts and are forced to undergo stressful training techniques based on fear and physical punishment.

Circus animals rarely breed in captivity, so stocks are replenished from the wild. Many are endangered species and a great percentage of animals captured die during transport.

Surely forcing wild animals to perform unnatural tricks is an inappropriate message to impart to our children. The frivolous use of these animals is in opposition to the idea that, as stewards of wild animals, we should protect natural ecosystems and depleted species, and ensure the humane treatment of all animals. Tempie Stahlin, Dexter, Mich. Quest for citizenship

Regarding the front-page article ``Kohl Backs Citizenship Reform, Defends Effort to Stop Hate Crime,'' June 17: It should be noted that Turks were invited to Germany in the late 1960s under labor agreements and took jobs that the Germans never wanted in the first place.

Germany chose Turkish workers over other Southern Europeans because they were the most productive, least expensive, and least likely to challenge authority with violence.

While German Turks should be demanding gratitude, today they are fighting for subsistence by pleading for the protection of their most fundamental human right - life. Also, they are requesting citizenship, a legal and moral status that necessarily flows from working and paying taxes for three generations in a civilized society. Gunay Evinch, Arlington, Va.

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