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THIS DEVOTED READER OF the Economist was surprised to learn from Eliot Cohen that the paper is “Britain’s conservative news-weekly and Washington wonks’ must-read.” (Breaking Balls,10/29).

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The fact of the matter is the Economist is neither a liberal nor a conservative magazine. It is one of those rare papers that goes out of its way to evaluate each issue on its own merit. And it always comes to the defense of free trade, free people, and free minds. Not all liberals or all conservatives are in favor of all of these ideas. Quite often, they are afraid of them.Spectator for those who may be interested in reading it.

As for Washington’s policy wonks, many of them are seen carrying the Economist into and out of their offices just to appear sophisticated, but not many of them actually get around to reading the six or so pages on the United States. Like the yellow power-ties of the Reagan era, a copy of the Economist, especially on Monday mornings, is something you display to impress others in the Clinton years.

College Park, Md.