As a traditional, hard-line Democrat I find it ironic that I would be moved to speak on behalf of a Republican, but I feel I must.
In recent weeks, I have been shaken by the intense criticism being leveled by the extreme right at Reagan's chief of staff, Howard Baker. Unlike most of Reagan's men, Baker chose to put aside his personal interest in order to help the Administration out of its self-inflicted quagmire. In sacrificing a possible presidential bid, Baker displayed a loyalty to his country and his party; a precarious balancing act which most of his predecessors were unable, or unwilling to maintain.
He has taken a contradictory and hypocritical Administration bent on confrontation and attempted to steer it through its final months, leaving as little damage to the nation as possible in its wake. And for these actions Baker has been labled "ineffectual," "weak," and a "gutless wonder" by disgruntled ultraconservatives.
The "fight and lose rather than compromise" attitude of people like Hatch, Meese and Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), makes me shudder at the prospect of a Reagan White House without Howard Baker.
GARY E. MURPHY