How wonderful is a free press. Without it, we would never have been able to read Patrick Buchanan's self-revealing public temper tantrum {"How the Baker Boys Toppled Reagan," Outlook, Nov. 1}. According to the argument used by Buchanan, the only purpose for public service is the naked pursuit of power for the promotion of self-interest, and the only rule is to get "them" before "they" get "us." I think Wall Street has spoken for us all about this paranoiac view of politics and governance.

While I understand the reality of power and party politics, my remaining idealism causes me to cling to the old-fashioned notion that politics is about doing the public good, rather than doing my enemies harm. In seeking to cast stones, Buchanan has shown us his own glass house. -- Kenan Patrick Jarboe

After reading Patrick "Pit Bull" Buchanan's diatribe against Howard "Cocker Spaniel" Baker, I finally realized why he is published in The Post. It's as if the Church of Rome were to disseminate the teachings of Jim and Tammy Bakker in order to defuse the intellectual credibility of the Reformation. Martin Luther might have had second thoughts had he envisioned the PTL Club as the fruit of his efforts.

In fairness to Buchanan though, "The Baker Boys" was probably not intended to be intellectually credible, except to those paranoid enough to believe "the left is not after the truth; it is after power and it is after us." Such types require coarse symbols and crude phrases. Hence, we find the enemy -- "veterans of that soul-stifling institution on Jenkins Hill" -- at war with "the command post of a great and glorious counter-revolution."

But to whom does Buchanan speak in Outlook? Probably those who will be most insulted not only by the form but by the substance of his article -- those Republican congressmen, for example, who have made traitorous accommodation with the enemy. Maybe Pat Buchanan is just being Pat Buchanan and we should let it go at that. But at least I think the left should give him a collective pat on the back. -- John Healy

As a lawyer, I am reasonably certain that Pat Buchanan's vituperative and vitriolic attack on Howard Baker and Jim Baker is protected under the First Amendment. However, if I were Howard or Jim (described by Buchanan as "kennel-fed hounds" and "cocker spaniels" rather than "hunting hounds"), I would sleep more comfortably knowing Buchanan was the one with a current rabies vaccination.

-- Alan A. Word

The intemperate radical right as exemplified by Patrick Buchanan seems to be at war with everyone -- most of all with Congress, but hardly less with administration appointees. His kind of democracy seems to have little to do with majority opinion or reconciliation and compromise. It sounds more like American dictatorship in both our country and Nicaragua. -- Elinor Dynes