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'Incompetents at Helm of State'

April 14, 1988

Robert McFarlane's lament concerning incompetents at the helm of state ("Why Does the Electorate Give Us Incompetents at the Helm of State?" Op-Ed Page, April 7) is quite timely; and I'm sure it's a subject he knows something about after having served under President Ronald Reagan.

It is sad and ironic that if the perfect presidential candidate were to appear on the American political scene he/she would be rejected out-of-hand by the voters. It is also shocking and paradoxical that the very attributes that make for a good President are disdained by the average American. For some reason, we Americans have more faith in and feel more secure with a double-talking phony whose tough talk is filled with simplistic views, banality, cant, guile and deception than we are with a candidate who is scholarly, intellectual, even tempered, forthright, well-educated, sincere and trustworthy, though perhaps plain and unexciting.

I once remember a relative saying that she couldn't vote for (former) Sen. Edmund Muskie because he did not have a pleasant smile. I reminded her that the devil has a pleasant smile, but it didn't change anything. Because of our lack of caring, our lack of political sophistication, and failure to do our homework, we set ourselves up for rascals and liars like Richard Nixon, Reagan and Lyndon Johnson. Our own vices cause us to get exactly what we deserve. What was that old line?--"We have met the enemy and he is us."

K.J. McGARRY

Desert Hot Springs

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