No forked tongue, please

Almost everyone in the administration has been coming out lately and pronouncing Mr. Reagan's Central American policy a success. Or at least a qualified success.

That leaves only the news media, renegade Democrats, and wishy-washy Republicans who are confused about it.

It may be confusion that makes Washington keep on percolating. Certain old American Indian chiefs got to the bottom of this confusion when they said, ''Great White Father speak with forked tongue.'' So they always knew the cavalry would come charging over the hill eventually. That ended the confusion once and for all.

This isn't quite that simple. In this case the Great White Father isn't really speaking with forked tongue. It is just that his men say something different from what he says. A case, perhaps, of confused smoke-screen signals.

At least there seems to be a smoke screen. GWF Reagan evidently has been trying to scare Mr. Castro and Mr. Andropov by sending a military task force to Central America, but he hasn't wanted to scare the American people.

There is no doubt the USSR is busy probing the Caribbean Sea. In addition to other reasons, the USSR may still be nursing rankled feelings stemming from the Cuban missile crisis. That was when President Kennedy didn't want any confusion and, perhaps unwisely, put everybody on war alert in case the missiles in Cuba were not removed. Anyway, there was an absence of forked tonguing.

Somehow, large numbers of sign-carrying people have fostered the idea that if the United States doesn't display force, no one else will. This may be the root of a lot of confusion.

Once Washington is clear about whether or not it can tolerate an arms buildup in Central America by a restless Soviet bloc, then the Great White Father can speak without the usual tongue in cheek to the American people.

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