Calling the "Firing Line" program featuring the six Republican presidential candidates a "debate" is like calling a turkey "Lean Cuisine" a Thanksgiving feast.

Tom Shales' review of the program {Style, Oct. 29} just began to address the problems inherent in partisan, nonobjective and experimental debate forums. Candidates, a host and television cameras are but a few of the necessary ingredients in the recipe for a meaningful debate worthy to serve up to the American public.

This forum was a "microwave" debate -- low on substance, conveniently packaged and zapped into life to feed the informational pangs of the public. Many others scheduled between now and 1988 threaten more empty calories.

Unfortunately, when you have a debate sponsor who clearly is more of an advocate than an arbiter, and more interested in image enhancement than in informing the electorate, important issues are skirted, sometimes exploited and certainly skewed to serve the interests of the sponsor and not the voter.

NANCY NEUMAN President, League of Women Voters Washington

After watching the six suave, strong, sensible Republican presidential contenders in the first forensic round of their champion eliminations -- and still reeling from the sorry spectacle of sundry immature, inarticulate or inexperienced Democratic aspirants damaging themselves in their own contests -- I am reminded of the universal 1950s obiter dictum on the nigh omnipotent New York Yankees: "For the good of baseball -- break 'em up."

If only the surviving donkeys would retire quietly from the fray, allowing half of the mighty elephants to switch parties, then perhaps America would have a truly difficult presidential choice come November '88: Democrat Robert Dole vs. Republican George Bush or Democrat Jack Kemp vs. Republican Al Haig, and so forth.

For the good of politics -- break 'em up.

JAMES A. LAUGHLIN Silver Spring