Bipartisan Condemnation

The article "No Letup in Probes of Clinton Agencies" [front page, Sept. 17] gives readers the misleading impression that Republicans just won't let up on investigating President Clinton because they are essentially vengeful and partisan.

Here's a novel reason for your writers to consider: Maybe Congress is investigating because there is so much to investigate in this administration. If no new information relating to Waco, the squandering of foreign aid dollars, theft of our nuclear secrets or reversals in longstanding U.S. policy toward terrorism had been revealed in recent days, I would concede the authors' point.

Investigations into the president's grant of clemency to FALN terrorists will be conducted on a bipartisan basis. The Senate's resolution condemning the president's action passed 95 to 2, with the support of the entire Democratic and Republican leadership. Pretty bipartisan--unless, or course, you define partisanship as unanimity of opinion.

--Paul D. Coverdell

The writer is a Republican senator

from Georgia.

Choice Words

Robert D. Novak's Sept. 20 op-ed column contains the following sentence: "Scavenging Social Security or raising taxes is a Hobson's choice." In context, it is evident that the writer intended to say it was a difficult choice.

Every city editor, managing editor or anyone else whose task it is to hire new journalists should make applicants memorize this passage from the Oxford English Dictionary: "Hobson's Choice: The option of taking the one thing offered or nothing. . . . Named for Tobias Hobson, the Cambridge carrier . . . who let out horses and is said to have compelled customers to take the horse who happened to be next to the stable-door or go without."

I have seen this misuse time after time in your paper. As an old retired journalist, I am appalled by the benightedness of this generation of newspaper writers.

--Odell Martin Smith

Mythological Hipster

Joseph Lucas [Free for All, Sept. 25] writes that Athena was born out of Zeus's hip, and not his head as Charles Krauthammer stated. But Krauthammer was right, as usual. Perhaps Lucas was thinking of Athena's brother, Dionysus, who in some traditions sprang from Zeus's thigh.

--Esther Goldberg

Height of Suspicion

David Broder's Politics column of Sept. 29 does a straight write-up of George W. Bush's medical records but raises no question about this odd fact: The governors' body weight (192 pounds) is "normal for a 6-foot-2-inch, 53-year-old man."

But Bush isn't 6-foot-2. The Austin campaign office says he's 6-foot even. Is the rest of the medical report equally reliable?

--Paul Singer

Dry Docked

Joseph R. Trocino states categorically that a dock is a body of water and that the word "dock" cannot be used to mean a place to stand on, or, presumably, to fish from, etc. [Free for All, Sept. 25].

Although Webster's Dictionary defines "dock" as a "basin" and "water between two piers," it also defines it as "a pier or wharf" and "a platform."

This is good news for those of us who, like Otis Redding, have been "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" and have not drowned as a result.

--Steven P. Cohen

Fire Away

Jim Evans [Free for All, Sept. 25] criticizes an editorial writer's use of the verb "target" in the sentence "Mr. Gore's tax breaks are targeted at people earning less than $100,000." Evans states, "The people are targeted, not the tax breaks. The tax breaks are aimed at . . . or intended for."

Evans should consult a dictionary. Webster's defines the verb "target" as "to direct or use toward a target." Moreover, doesn't Evans know that you should never end a sentence with a preposition?

--Jeffrey M. Jakubiak

'Stardust' Memory

Someone once said: "Half of what you read in The Washington Post is true; the other half is not."

John Murphy's Sept. 20 Style section review, in which he referred to "Hoagie Carmichael and Johnny Mercer's shimmering ballad 'Stardust,' " was no exception. Hoagie Carmichael indeed wrote the music; Mitchell Parish wrote the words.

--Adrienne G. Hope