Your June 27 editorial "Yes to Taxes" was disturbing. George Bush "did the right thing," it said, in recanting his no-new-taxes pledge; you called the pledge "a mistake."

But George Bush's campaign pledge was not a "mistake"; it was a lie. And his willingness to violate it without offering his resignation was dishonorable.

In Rhode Island, my home state, we'd seen all this before. In 1968 John Chafee was governor and running for reelection. The state had no income tax, but Chafee had said that one might be necessary. His Democratic opponent Frank Licht promised Rhode Islanders that they would never have an income tax under a Licht administration. That promise did the trick, and Chafee was unseated.

When Licht reneged on his no-tax pledge, I asked a friend who had worked in his campaign if he was not disgusted by the man's dishonesty. My friend said no; on the contrary, Licht had simply done what had to be done. That is what a leader does, my friend said.

Viewed tactically, Bush's false promise was the furthest thing from a "mistake"; it helped get him elected. The only grounds for criticizing it are -- as old-fashioned as this may sound -- moral. Whether new taxes are needed is beside the point; you should have been indignant at the president's dishonesty.

By making no protest, the editorial suggested that lies are our due.

-- Lawrence G. Proulx The writer works part-time for The Washington Post.