THE ARTICLE ABOUT RICHARD DARMAN in the July 29 issue was as interesting and in-depth an assessment of that complex and guarded man as it seems he would ever allow.

Especially interesting to me was the mini-portrait of his grandfather, Arthur Darman, whom I knew in the early '60s. He was a man of enormous charm; small of stature he may have been, but such was his presence that when he walked into a room, he immediately dominated it -- in the most delightful way.

There is a kind of whimsical irony to the coincidence that this article revealing Richard Darman's apparent desire for the appearance of a Brahmin background came out in the same magazine as Dave Barry's column potshotting at the boringness of being a WASP and wondering why anyone aspires to that lifestyle. Richard Darman needs to recognize that his real-life grandfather was -- at least figuratively -- head and shoulders above any proper, patrician old-line WASP grandfather imaginable.



MY FIRST REAL JOB WAS IN 1971 AT THE Department of Health, Education and Welfare. My first boss was Dick Darman. He was so bright and capable that I wondered whether I could make it professionally, fearing that his skill level was the norm.

It should be no surprise that Dick wants what many Washingtonians want: to do good things (idealism), to win battles (competitiveness) and to gain some recognition for it (ego). He's just more successful than most.

Your article left out three important things about Dick. First, he has a wonderful sense of humor and will turn it on himself. Second, for me he was a brilliant and patient teacher. Third, he has a cadre of loyal former staff and colleagues. I may not see him often, but I feel better knowing he's around.



DELETE THE SUPERLATIVES FROM MARjorie Williams's piece on Dick Darman and you get another overrated government guy who has done almost nothing.

Fact is, Darman has dubiously distinguished himself chiefly by consistently underestimating the dire budget problems facing this nation, and he appears dolorously out of his league. His sole duty is not to ponder dreamily about a grand design for the free world but to prepare a durable budget.

Ironically, Williams came magically close to defining Darman's real contribution to American history. By adding a single word to one of her declamatory sentences, she might have redeemed herself. "Darman," she writes, "presides over the world's largest budget." Now, add "deficit" as the final word and you begin to grasp the depths of her distorted profile.



A QUESTION, PLEASE. IF DICK DARman is so dazzlingly brilliant -- the man with all the answers, in touch with all the power levers, knowing all the capital minefields -- then how come he agreed to be interviewed for your magazine?



I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW HOW much I laughed over Curt Suplee's electrical power article in the Magazine {"Dear Dr. Kilowatt," July 29}.

"Voltschmerz" gets my vote for best pun of the year -- the one against which all others will be measured!

Having enjoyed his work in the past, I can assure you that there is a definite reader demand for what he Suplees.



Please address letters to: 20071, The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number and are subject to editing.