Presidential Impressions

This reporter has a number of impressions regarding the directions in which the White House now is moving.

* The President is not now - if he ever was - eager for a summit meeting with Leonid Brezhnev. If such a meeting develops, fine and good. But no preparation for such a trip is under way.The prospects for a fall summit, bruited from both Washington and Moscow a few weeks back, seem to be no better than 50-50 at this time.

The President is pictured as being more inclined to wait and meet with Brezhnev's successor. It seems he would prefer to hammer out understandings with a Soviet leader more likely to be around for a while.

Also, the President does not want a summit unless understandings of substance can be agreed to before such a meeting, unless he is assured that it would produce something important in the direction of easing East-West tensions.

* The cool relations between Mr. Reagan and former president Jimmy Carter seem to have warmed a little. At least the President is now attentive to Mr. Carter's views on how to deal with the crisis in Lebanon. Until recently, friends of Mr. Carter complained that the President was rudely snubbing his predecessor. But no more.

It would appear that, as the President has begun to be involve himself in the complex Mideast situation, he has grown to value Mr. Carter more and more. Perhaps finding Menachem Begin more than a little prickly, he has come to appreciate Mr. Carter and his problems with the Israeli prime minister following the Camp David accord.

The President is relying also on Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger for advice in dealing with the Mideast crisis. As for the rumor that Mr. Kissinger will be brought back to government to serve as a special presidential emmissary to the Mideast - perhaps replacing Philip Habib or working with him - there is nothing to it. Mr. Kissinger, according to present plans, will not be brought back. Nor is it envisioned that President Carter will be asked to play more than an advisory role.

The President is known to feel that there now is a great opportunity to bring the Israelis and the PLO together and find a solution to the Palestinian problem. He is cautiously optimistic - butrealistic. And he is investing a large share of his energy these days on getting a breakthrough in the Mideast.

Is the President ''getting tougher'' with Mr. Begin? The answer is yes. He has for some time become firmer with the Israeli leader, letting him know in no uncertain terms that he must cease operating as a unilateral force in the Mideast without taking US wishes into account (particularly with respect to the use of US arms).

* On the domestic front, the President is pleased with what he sees as signs of an upward lift in the economy. He thinks that the slight rise in inflation last month was only a temporary variation from what will be a continuing decline in prices.

He is heartened, too, by the slight drop in interest rates, seeing this as the beginning of a continuing movement in that direction. But he is very cautious about his predictions for an improving economy.

* Basically, the President still clings to his long-expressed goal: a lessening of the federal government's hold on the individual citizen. He hopes that history will write some day that he achieved this objective.

* Finally, while the President is leaning toward running again in 1984, he has not decided yet what to do. In the end, he is telling associates, a decision to seek reelection will rest on whether he believes that he is personally needed in the presidency to carry out his objectives.

Thus, it seems that Mr. Reagan may decide to try to stay in the White House even if his wife is reluctant for him to do so. One senses that he may already be fairly convinced that duty will compel him to be on the ballot two years from now.

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