Edwin M. Yoder Jr. {"The Jesse Jackson Trap," op-ed, June 16} seems to have offered some pretty good reasons why Jesse Jackson should be the next president of the United States and then managed to draw all the wrong conclusions. Perhaps his intuition and view of history are not very reliable guides.

Mr. Yoder presents three rather feeble reasons why his thumbs are down on Mr. Jackson. He is an "ambulance-chaser." I recall that, after the first major foreign policy blunder of the Reagan administration -- the "peacekeeping" venture into Lebanon -- when an American pilot was shot down over Syria and an entire State Department sat helplessly by, Jesse Jackson went over and brought him back. I like that kind of ambulance-chasing.

Jesse can't win in the South, Yoder moans. We all need to be reminded that nationally we celebrate the birthday not only of a white man who is the father of the country but also of a black man who is the father of hope in the last half of this century. He came from the South.

The third "reason" -- that many of his young followers don't know about the struggles of two or three decades ago -- only attests to the fact that Jesse Jackson has his own present-day appeal and doesn't need any "props."

To me -- a white, middle-class male -- the Jackson candidacy offers immense promise for a better future, following foreign policy disasters that go back at least 25 years and a combined foreign and domestic policy that has brought us to several "brinks" in the past seven years. I would stick to Jackson in any case, but the guarantee that we will have a choice this time is reason enough. ALLEN S. ORTON Columbia

I'm tired of hearing the so-called experts tell me why Jesse Jackson can't win or shouldn't run for the presidency. But Edwin M. Yoder Jr. reached a new low by insulting the intelligence of Mr. Jackson's "young black followers" in 1984. Mr. Yoder's claim that many of Mr. Jackson's followers knew nothing about the history of the civil rights movement is dubious at best, but his insinuation that Mr. Jackson's constituents couldn't be trusted to know who would make a good president is not subtle racism but blatant prejudice. Following Mr. Yoder's logic, every Jack Kemp follower would have to understand the intricacies of supply-side economics, and every Richard Gephardt believer would need to know the history of protectionist trade legislation before they would be qualified to support him as president.

The purpose of a presidential campaign is to listen to ideas -- including those of Jesse Jackson -- and select the best candidate. It's time for people like Mr. Yoder to quit listing alleged reasons why Jesse Jackson can't win, or shouldn't run, or is bad for the Democratic Party, and start telling us more about what he says about the issues.

VICTOR HULL Gaithersburg