Joseph Kraft in his column (Jan. 29), “The Senate Is on Trial in Meese Deliberations,” makes many valid arguments why the Senate should take a skeptical attitude concerning Edwin Meese III’s nomination by President Reagan to be our next attorney general. I humbly submit, however, that if anyone should be “on trial” it is the President himself.
Is it not the President’s duty to appoint the most qualified people he can find to fill his Cabinet posts, and especially one of such singular importance as that of attorney general?
I do not mean to put Meese on trial either; he is probably a nice enough fellow who has made a few innocuous errors of judgment, but he is probably also the least qualified person that President Reagan could have tapped for the job.
I am realistic enough to know that in any administration a certain amount of patronage is spread among the “faithful,” but if our President insisted on playing “musical chairs” with appointments he would hae been better off (and the country too) if he had shipped Meese off to Ouagadougou as ambassador to Upper Volta.
ANTHONY J. GRECO
Well, columnist James J. Kilpatrick (Jan. 31) has finally said something I agree with. In defending Ed Meese, he states, “Enough has been disclosed to suggest a pattern in which Meese has peddled his influence in exchange for financial favors from people whom he placed in fat federal jobs.”
Kilpatrick apparently thinks that it’s enough to have disproved the FACT of impropriety. On the contrary, I think this is the very kind of behavior that should not be tolerated in an attorney general.
In some ways, it is more important how he appears, than how he actually acts. The attorney general represents the highest standards of our justice system. If he looks like he is behaving illegally and gets away with it, then what do we tell those who must pay for their crimes even when the motives are good?
Ed Meese is a poor excuse for a mature, ethical public servant. If we allow our representatives to approve his nomination then we deserve whatever confused morals our kids wind up with.
Kilpatrick concludes that investigation of Meese’s activities found no evidence of impropriety or ethical violation.
This may be correct, but Kilpatrick ignores the fact that Lt. Col. Meese, an Army judge advocate, knew that he had not met the requirements for retention in the active reserve, much less the qualifications for promotion to colonel, a promotion he accepted without protest.
This is unacceptable conduct for an armed forces officer. Surely it would be equally unacceptable conduct for an attorney general of the United States.
ROBERT L. HUMPHREY
As a clinical psychologist, let me say that it childish to assume that one’s character can be changed by an avowal of “from now on I will be more careful.”
The ethical boundaries crossed and recrossed by Meese, show that his basic values are ethically flawed and changing him would be a herculean task for a psychotherapist--let alone a group of politicians, many of whom view the game as having one major end, winning, winning, and not getting caught.
We need models whose character is already a model for others seeking ideals. We have too many of the other kind in our government already.
I think the Senate should confirm the nomination of Meese. He is, after all, the very best the Republican Party has to offer.
BLAKE H. FINCHAMP
Poor Ed Meese went to Washington thinking it was Sacramento, and got into money problems trying to keep up with the Joneses. Failing, he accepted money favors from strangers who very soon wanted government jobs. Later, Meese voted as a White House official to appoint them--without disclosing his conflict of interest. A clear breach of ethics that to many disqualifies him for Senate confirmation as the chief law enforcement officer.
Yet columnist Edwin M. Yoder Jr. (Feb. 1) excuses Meese’s conduct, claiming “everyone in government is doing it now"; moreover, the posts involved were--he says--"minor jobs.” I would question the judgment and ethical values of anyone who considers the five-year presidential appointment to the board of governors of the U.S. Postal Service as only a “minor job.”
MARIETTA F. HILL
It comes as a sad day when Edwin Meese III becomes the U.S. attorney general. It is like turning the fox loose in the henhouse. All these high-sounding jobs that people from San Diego have gotten in Washington seems to have been bought from Ed Meese. He is certainly a disgrace to the legal profession and to the state of California.
WADE K. MEDFORD
It is inevitable that Meese will be confirmed as attorney general. This moves me to reflect on my experiences in Meese’s home county of San Diego.
For three years I worked for Legal Aid representing welfare recipients. Thanks in part to the likes of Meese and his conservative cohorts, my clients were not well liked in the community. Defending them against charges of welfare fraud was thus difficult. When they would incorrectly list the sources of their income or “forget” to report certain loans, their explanations were greeted with considerable skepticism. Not surprisingly, their sloppy record keeping often resulted in severe civil penalties and/or criminal convictions.
In retrospect, I can only wish that my clients had ben applying for the attorney generalship rather than for welfare because they would have been treated more kindly by both public opinion and the law.
HARRY J. GIBBONS JR.
I read with amazement that Ed Meese was seeking $700,000 from the U.S. government to pay legal fees incurred in the independent counsel investigation of him.
This is the same Meese, isn’t it, who has so vigorously opposed the legal services program for the poor, a program that gives at least some validity to the concept that there is equal justice for everyone in the country?
Regarding the Paul Conrad cartoon (Feb. 1) of Bonzo in the Cabinet. This time, Conrad has gone too far!
I am angry at the suggestion that a chimpanzee does not have at least the level of competence and sensitivity of some recent Cabinet-level appointees or prospective appointees.
It is time for Conrad to quit trying to make a monkey of the presidential appointment process!