To President Daniel Ortega

Managua, Nicaragua

DEAR MR. President:

Under separate cover, we are sending you Edward P. Casey, a clerk at the Boston City Council.

You might think him rather low-level, but he is just what you need right now. You don't know anything about U.S. politics and Eddie can instruct you in the basics.

One reason we chose him is because he is used to dealing with people like yourself, who tend to be hung up on the past. All his life he has heard Irishman cursing Oliver Cromwell, who died several centuries ago. Eddie will remind you that Somoza is gone. His motto is "today's problems today."

And speaking of the past, the first thing Eddie is going to tell you is to send your army uniform to the cleaner's, and leave it there. The revolution is over. Eddie wants you in a three-piece suit at all times, looking spiffy and occasionally smiling, like any other politician.

We know how you hate it when Americans come down and tell you what to do. You seethe. Eddie is different. He won't argue with you and he'll cheer you up. And he'll just explain the facts of life to you. He'll give you a crash course in political survival.

He will tell you the following every day: Don't give unnecessary offense.

Second: Reward your friends, not your enemies. Don't thumb your nose at people who have done something for you.

If you had known those two simple rules you wouldn't have gone to Moscow two days after the House of Representatives voted against aid to the contras.

Don't try telling Eddie that Congress did only what it should have done, that Reagan's war is illegal and immoral and has no support in the U.S., Latin America or Europe. Eddie hates rhetoric. He likes results.

He would never have let you go to Moscow if he had been there. If you insisted that you had to because you had nowhere else to go for money, he would at least have made you stop at the office of La Prensa on your way to the airport, and announce the end of all press censorship.

It would have been a nice photo-op. It also might have taken some of the wind out of Reagan's sails and given the people on Capitol Hill who are trying to help you something to hang their hats on. Also, you promised them you would do it. Eddie would tell you how important it is in politics to keep your word.

When the trade embargo was slapped on, few people spoke up for you. House Speaker Tip O'Neill didn't object to it, even though he doesn't want to mess with your country. Someone who lived on his block when he was young went to Nicaragua as part of the Marines, who -- yes, we know -- so often occupied your country, and got stabbed. He's been leery ever since. The speaker broke a pick getting that vote for you in the House. But is he going to stick up for you when you're in Moscow? Don't be funny. It doesn't work that way. Eddie will tell you all about it.

Eddie doesn't necessarily think that going to Moscow proves you're a commie any more than going to Bitburg proves Reagan is a fascist. But he thinks it would be nice if you would hang around with more democratic types whenever you get the chance. He's going to ask you to drop Fidel as a pal. He's your idol, we understand, and your fellow- revolutionary, and all that, but he makes people nervous. Invite the Contadora group over for a weekend. You're going to be told what to do by everyone anyway. Eddie thinks you might be able to take it better from your own kind.

Take a businessman to lunch at least once a week. They're the folks who will be most hurt by the trade embargo, and they may stop criticizing you for a while when they see what Reagan is doing to them. Tell them you want their help and advice. You probably don't, but a lot of politics is pretending.

Go to church every Sunday. Take your wife and children. Eddie likes his politicians to show up at Mass -- in Boston, they all do. Who knows, it could help you in your scrap with the clergy, and it would be nice for the nuns and priests up here who have befriended you and lobby for you. Ask that Maryknoll sister, Peggy Healy, to your house. The State Department says the speaker gets all his advice on Nicaragua from her. It drives them crazy; Pat Buchanan, too.

We hear you saying Reagan doesn't have to go to church, so why would you? Eddie will tell you, "Danny boy, don't go by Reagan. He gets away with things no other politician would dare to try. You can't get away with anything."

Eddie will arrive on the next plane, if there is one. Good luck.

Nervous Nellie