Richard Cohen's "Mr. Bush's Understudy" {op-ed, Aug. 30} was a fine example of how the liberal press finds a way to give an underhanded jab to the president's administration. He can't very well criticize the president, who has a 75-plus percent job rating, so he criticizes the vice president, because he has no foreign policy of his own or foreign policy experience.

What vice president has ever had a foreign policy? Only the president can make and conduct foreign policy, although congressmen think they also have that power. I think Vice President Quayle is doing his assignments well -- otherwise, someone else would be doing them. JAMES B. EVANS Fairhope, Ala.

Richard Cohen writes that he is uneasy about the potential of having Vice President Dan Quayle assume the position of commander in chief. His arguments ring hollow because of his contradictory message. Mr. Cohen admits that he is surprised at George Bush's handling of the Persian Gulf Crisis and wonders how people could have been so wrong when they called him a "wimp." Mr. Cohen also admits he has a hard time imagining Michael Dukakis maneuvering global diplomacy as well as the president has in the past few weeks.

Well, couldn't Mr. Cohen's perception of Dan Quayle's ability to assume command be as wrong as his perception (circa 1988) of George Bush? Second, Mr. Cohen asserts that Mr. Quayle has no experience in foreign affairs. Neither did Ronald Reagan, and he didn't turn out too badly, especially in his dealings with the Soviets.

The vice president is doing the same thing Richard Nixon (that global star) did when he was vice president: traveling widely throughout Europe and Latin America, fostering personal relationships, that may be useful.

You can't have it both ways, Mr. Cohen. DANIEL RODRIGUEZ Washington