It's not time for another Goldwater mission

In his opinion piece, "Time for Another Goldwater Mission" (Dec. 22), Godfrey Sperling anticipated that some readers would complain because he cites President Nixon's case as reference for what might happen to President Clinton. But as one of those readers, let me clarify that my objection is not to the comparison, but the failure to acknowledge the contrasts.

Mr. Sperling claims that the two cases are "particularly similar" because both Mr. Nixon and Mr. Clinton have lost the trust of the American people. However, we must ask how much "trust" has been lost. Otherwise, we must face up to the paradoxical conclusion that trust doesn't count for much these days when 70 percent of the public think the president is doing a good job. More important, however, we must consider what prompted Barry Goldwater to see the issue in 1973 as "Can you trust Dick Nixon?" Senator Goldwater could not trust Nixon because as president, Nixon had used the FBI and CIA for partisan political ends.

Can we assume that Goldwater would distrust Clinton as much because he lied under oath about a sexual affair? I think not. Unfortunately, in his musings, Sperling has all but overlooked those qualities that distinguished Goldwater as a conservative politician: a sense of fairness and his tolerance for political foes.

In that regard, it seems more likely that Goldwater would have taken on a mission in opposition to the one Sperling suggests for Senate Democrats. I imagine that Goldwater would have walked across the Capitol to the House and addressed the Republican majority with a phrase he seemed particularly fond of in his later years: "Just cool it."

Seth Finn


Admissions office drama

My thanks to you for an excellent article on the competitive college admissions process ("High drama in the office of admissions," Dec. 15). I have been interviewing for Yale for 15 to 20 years and always read this type of article for any insight or perspective it sheds on the process.

The one criticism I might offer is small. Your article did a fine job of explaining what happens to the applicant's file once it has been put into a notebook and placed in front of the committee. Since many students and their parents feel that admission offices rely very heavily on numbers (grades, SATs, etc.) and fear that chance is also a large element, it would have been helpful to note that review of the file includes (at least at Yale) readings by three people (one extra in case of minority applicants). Each of those readers offers comments on information that may be persuasive about an applicant's likelihood of success in college, whether that information is numerical or comes from a counselor or teacher recommendation.

Dale R. Schmidt

Alexandria, Va.

This dialogue of the actual admission process is very informative and the best stuff I have ever read on the subject.

Andre Long

Bolder, Colo.

Professor, Air Force Institute of Technology

Remembering Joe D.

Regarding "Joe DiMaggio: still America's hero" (Dec. 18): I love the rugged mountain metaphor. It should join "The Yankee Clipper" in its evocation of the man's grace and majesty. People don't realize that once upon a time, American heroes were the strong, silent type. There is this idea that American sports heroes were always ball-spiking and trash-talking. Actually, this species of "hero" traces back to Ali, and none of his presumed protgs ever noticed the tongue that was always in his cheek in his performances. Mickey, Roger, Willie, Hank - these were people in the Joe D. mold. Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Bob Burke

Shanghai, China

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