Good grief, now the president can't remember anything about the Libyan cables that were seen by Brother Billy.

Next thing you know, he'll be forgetting what Miss Lillian said to Maude Hamweather on April 18, 1956 at Americaus, Ga.

But Back to Libya.

Let's see, now. Croesus was king of Lydia, not Libya. Lydia had the king who told the Persian not to count himself happy till he was dead.

Libya, on the other hand, is run by the colonel with more q's than u's.

It's all coming back. Libya-athletes-Munich-hijackers-bastards. Now we've got it straight. Any further questions?

Cables? What cables? Oh. State Department. They sent over some cables? Wud they say?

(We now shift to a meeting that will probably take place much as I outline it below).

Sen. Nathan Breadbox: The question, sir, is what you knew and when you knew it.

President: Wait. I think I do remember a cable from Libya. Was it about planes they say they paid for and never got?

Sen. Breadbox: No, sir. The plane cable was on Dec. 22, The cable we are asking you about was on Dec. 26.

President: Oh. Well, do we knew what was in the Dec. 26 cable?

Sen. Breadbox: That is precisely what we are asking you to tell us.

President: Gee.

Meanwhile, the press is wondering why the White House cannot remember this particular cable.

The Brassbound Trumpet (President Confused on Cable) and The Clarion Peacock (Blackout in Presidential Brain) have raised important questions.

"Important Questions Raised" says the Endless Review, four days later.

Well. For the first time in a while I do feel rather sorry for the White House.

What American now lives who has not thought suddenly (at 2 a.m. Friday while watching an old Judith Anderson movie on television) that, dear Lord, he was supposed to meet Ephraim Bullbat for lunch last Tuesday in Alexandria?

And never thought of it till three days later. Old Bullbat is still waiting, harboring resentments most likely.

In my own life, though I have the excuse of having a lot more on my mind than the president, I once tuned in one of those dismal panel shows where reporters interview some poor cluck.

"We are sorry." says the announcer, glancing towards an empty chair, "that Mr. Mitchell was unable to appear at the last minute to take part in our panel."

(Lightining. Thunder.)

Mr. Mitchell was not able to appear at the first minute, either, having forgot all about it.

"Didn't you write it down somewhere?" I was asked.

"I don't see how it's possible you forgot, I was told.

The president has a taste for philosophy and the wisdom of the ages, so let me sum up for him:

Forgetting is not the problem. God gave us forgetting. Remembering, or being reminded too late, is the problem, Hell gave us that.

I know a reporter down here who has forgot his wife's birthday three different years in three different countries.

I know of an important Washington brain-boy who took his baby for an airing in the park and returned two hours later with the wrong baby carriage and wrong baby. My word, his wife was fussy.

These things happen. If it's any comfort to the White House.