IT is still too early to determine whether President Reagan is ``back again'' - an objective of the White House in the drafting of the President's speech this week. That will ultimately depend on future disclosures by Capitol Hill committees and the special prosecutor probing the Iran-contra affair, as well as Mr. Reagan's ability to adopt a more direct ``hands on'' managerial style. Clearly, however, the President's conciliatory approach, as well as his admission that trading arms for hostages was a mistake that ``happened on my watch,'' should help to restore his credibility with the public.
For all the controversy that has surrounded this President and his policies, Ronald Reagan still commands a sizable reservoir of goodwill with the American people.
Yet the President, as he now evidently realizes, has far to go to regain the public's full trust and, more important, to recapture momentum within the White House.
It is imperative that such trust and momentum be regained.
Mr. Reagan is not just the President of the United States. For all the diminution in power that has set in to the Oval Office of late, the US remains the economic, military, and diplomatic bedrock of the Western alliance.
``You know,'' the President said, ``by the time you reach my age, you've made plenty of mistakes if you've lived your life properly. So you learn. You put things in perspective. You pull your energies together. You change. You go forward.''
It is time for the American people to once again go forward - together. That means, on a number of fronts, that:
The White House should cooperate as fully as possible with continuing Iran-contra inquiries.
Congress and the White House should once again turn their attention to economic matters, particularly the budget, the budget deficit, and the nation's heavy trade imbalance. Nothing can be more important than making sure that the current business expansion continue.
The US and the Soviets are edging toward agreement on Euromissiles. The opportunity must not be lost. The US also needs a clearly defined foreign policy, particularly regarding the Middle East. The President needs to reassert control over the foreign policy apparatus.
Domestically, better national cooperation is necessary to help the homeless. A new program on insurance for catastrophic health costs seems within reach.
The mix of power in Washington will not be the same.
But that doesn't make the opportunity of the moment any less tangible. The American people have proved themselves to be highly resilient. It is, as Mr. Reagan acknowledged, time to ``go forward.''