TEDDY KENNEDY keeps screaming that President Carter should leave the White House and come up to New England to debate with him. I don't agree. In times like these, the president must be in Washington dealing with each crisis as it comes up.

Take early last week. The president was in the oval office when his Secruity Adviser Brzezinski rushed in with a cable.

"Is it from Pakistan?"

"No," said Brzezinski. "It's from Muhammad Ali in Tanazania. He wants to come home."

The president, who never panics in a crisis, said, "He can't do it. The cornerstone of our entire foreign policy depends on his mission."

"I know that, Mr. President, but he says in his cable that the president of Tanzania won't see him."

"Why not? Is it because Ali is no longer heavyweight cahmpion of the world?"

"No, it's because he's black."

"Isn't the president of Tanzania black?"

"That's just the point. The president of Tanzania is sore because we sent a black man to persuade him to call off the Olympics. He thinks you're patronizing him."

"But doesn't he know I didn't send Ali because of his color? I sent him because he's the best diplomat I've got."

"I know it, and you know it. But nobody else does. Mr. President what are we going to do?"

Brzezinski read "All the black Africans here in Tanzania tell me their fight is with South Africa and not with Russia. How come you didn't tell me that when you made me Special Ambassador to the Dark Continent?"

"I thought I did," Carter said. "Why don't we cable him and tell him that if he cuts his mission short, the Russians might go ahead with their Olympics, and then they will never get out of Afghanistan."

"I talked to our people in Tanzania, and they told him that already. He said it doesn't matter because he's the greatest diplomat in the world, and he'll lose his title if no head of state will see him."

"But it's just one country. I'm sure the presidents of Kenya and Liberia will see him."

"Yes, but they have already decided not to go to the Moscow Olympics."

"He doesn't know that," Carter said. "I think you ought to send him a cable immediately Mr. President. If Ali cancels his trip now we could not only lose Afghanistan, but Maine and New Hampshire as well."

"All right send the following wire. 'Dear CHAMP, As President of the United States and Commander-in-CHIEF, I am ordering you to continue your diplomatic mission. Your negotiations could mean the difference between a Moscow Olympics or no Olympics at all. Our only hope to avoid a confrontation between the two major nuclear powers, is your ability to persuade Nigeria and Senegal to stay home this summer. All America awaits your decision."

Happily for all of us, Ali decided to continue his historic journey.

The only reason I mention all this is that if President Carter had been slogging through Maine last week, as Teddy would have him do, he would never have had time to deal with the Ali crisis, which many diplomatic observers are now describing as the turning-point in Soviet-American relations.