I’m responding to two letters from Jack Albalah. In “Obama’s elevated opinion of himself (Oct. 31), he asks, “[H]as there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?”

My research yielded the names of five former presidential nominees with a wider gap between their estimation of themselves and the sum total of their lifetime achievements.

Their names were: Tyler (1841-1845), Polk (1845-1849), Taylor (1849-1850), Fillmore (1850-1853), and Pierce (1853-1857).

In another letter (Oct. 24), he wrote of “the importance of ‘Joe the plumber.'” I would appreciate having more details from Mr. Albalah concerning the following:

(a) What does this man’s “importance” say about some of our citizens who see themselves as self-appointed spokespeople for a formerly great nation that has now succumbed to a myopic, crude, and mendacious state of mind and that doesn’t hesitate to select for the position of vice president of the United States a candidate who is the symbol of a new vulgarization in American politics?

(b) What does it say about those Americans who see in Joe the plumber a defender of “middle class aspirations against a socialist system” (as Mr. Albalah so delicately puts it)?