The first time I saw him on TV shaking hands with a crowd, I did a double take: What was John Silber, former president of Boston University, doing on TV? This was the first time I had learned he was running for governor of Massachusetts. (I had first heard of John Silber back in 1984, when he was appointed by President Reagan to sit on the presidential advisory board that oversees the Voice of America broadcasting service to Cuba also known as Radio Marti.)

Then surprise turned to astonishment: he had won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. But when I read David Broder's column {"The Silber Surprise," op-ed, Sept. 23}, surprise and astonishment turned into confusion: John Silber was being described as a "figure who has been able to mobilize public resentment of the political and economic elites." Clearly, something was not jibing with some other facts I know about Mr. Silber: he has been an advocate of pre-natal nutrition programs for women of child-bearing age, nine-to-five day care for preschoolers and literacy education for parents -- all ideas he has been heralding since he was an adviser for Operation Head Start 26 years ago.

Moreover, would Mr. Silber explain how he can on the one hand be an intellectual, an educator, a man who over and over again has claimed that "a vision of excellence, a secular kingdom of God in which individuals fulfill themselves through education and useful public service" is essential to society and how he can on the other hand manifest loud and clear his message to minorities of "Shape up. You're not going to get any special treatment from me"?

Will the real John Silber please stand up?