Watching House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) -- or anyone else in Congress or the White House, for that matter -- challenge Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on patriotism or sacrifice for our country [news story, May 20] shows how thoroughly faux Republicans have surrendered their sense of perspective.

To these pseudo-Republicans, taxes are by definition always too high, deficits don't matter and the spirit that President John F. Kennedy evoked (". . . ask what you can do for your country") is a distraction from the goal of increasing personal wealth that every loyal American should have. As a real Republican, Mr. McCain remembers what the party is supposed to be about: responsible people supporting strong defense (Teddy Roosevelt), respect for civil rights (Abraham Lincoln), adequate taxes to pay for the government services provided (Richard Nixon) and limited government (no Republican actually has managed that, but Mr. McCain might, if given the chance).

What provoked Mr. Hastert was Mr. McCain's call for at least some sacrifice by the rich -- who get the lion's share of one tax cut after another -- to echo the much greater sacrifice borne by our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. This led to the speaker's statement that Mr. McCain should visit wounded troops in Walter Reed Army Medical Center to understand sacrifice.

As Mr. Hastert said in his acceptance speech as the new speaker, "Solutions to problems cannot be found in a pool of bitterness."

JOHN PACE

Alexandria