In some instances I preferred to ignore the...


October 07, 1991|By THEO LIPPMAN Jr.

I WROTE THAT in some instances I preferred to ignore the grammar rule, "nominative case after the verb to be."

Jack Dewell of Ellicott City sent in this comment: "Two Harvards are in their room studying. A Yalie knocks at the door. 1st Harvard: 'Who's there?' Yalie: 'It's me.' 2nd Harvard: 'What's he trying to say?' "

John C. Brennan of Laurel was a little more serious on this point. "Isn't the full rule: the same case follows the verb to be as precedes it?" he writes. Sounds good to me.

And then I wrote, "Having a famous father, grandfather or uncle in politics has always been helpful." Quentin Davis of Aberdeen wrote in that this is why he opposes term limitations in Congress. "Limiting terms will surely lead to some interesting naming of offsprings. . . . John A. Jones will surely name his sons John A. Jr. and Johnson A. . . ." Heck. They do that now.

On the same column, Dr. Thomas E. Hunt Jr. of Baltimore wrote, "I wonder if the Byron family is unique in legislative genealogy. Congresswoman Beverly Byron succeeded her husband. His mother was a congresswoman who succeeded her husband." I think the Western Maryland family is unique.

And then I wrote that Teddy Kennedy is a good "pragmatic and programmatic" senator. E. and V. Dropkin of Vadnais Heights, Minn., wrote to say they hope this means newspapers are going to be more interested in "problems facing our country today," with less "preoccupation with the sex life of public figures" in newspapers. No law against hoping, Dropkins.

And then I wrote that Adlai Stevenson was a "a brilliant writer and orator." Thomas A. Moseley of Brick Town, N.J., writes, "I do believe you are excessive in your praise. Truman didn't like him and neither did Dean Acheson." Moseley recalled a Stevenson statement that suggested he would never use force to achieve a national goal -- in Little Rock to enforce desegregation or overseas to oppose aggression. "He was, as Matthew Arnold said about Shelley, 'a beautiful but ineffectual angel.'"

And then I wrote that President Garfield's doctors "invented" air conditioning in 1881. L. G. Gramling of Gainesville, Fla., says in fact John Gorrie of Apalachicola, Fla., invented it in the 1840s. "The poor doctor was ridiculed and ignored during his lifetime; I'd like to see him finally get a little credit for his achievement." Me, too.

And then I wrote, "Will the real Tom Harkin please identify himself?" No, wait a minute. I didn't write that. John Freeland of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, did, in a letter to the editor of the Des Moines Register. W. F. Coret, of Woodbine, Iowa, wrote Freeland saying based on his own 25 years in Marine Corps aviation he believes Harkin phonied up his Navy pilot and war bio and is a "conniving, self-serving, opportunist, greedy, public-milking politician" besides. Coret sent me a copy of the letter for my files, having noted my criticism of Harkin and my love of calm, fair, dispassionate discourse.

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