PAT BUCHANAN is right.

Maybe it's time working women turned in their pin-striped suits and floppy bow ties and went home.

It's what we've been waiting for -- a clear signal that men can run the country without us. The economy will do very nicely, thank you, without the millions of women currently in the work force.

When Buchanan told reporters that Reagan's new tax plan was designed to favor "the traditional" family, one with a husband who worked and a wife who stayed home, little did he know that career women everywhere might agree.

Especially in Washington.

"Hello, hello -- . Henderson, these phones are ringing off the hook," presidential counselor Pat Buchanan snarls to his aide. "Where is everybody?"

"Home, sir."

"But it's not August yet."

"All the secretaries figured they'd get a tax break if they didn't work anymore, so they all quit."

"Who's idea was that?"

"Yours, sir."

"Get me the secretary of transportation. We have a meeting with the president at 4 o'clock."

"I've already tried. They told me Elizabeth Dole is home finishing the living room curtains. She can't come to the phone."

"By the way, where's the mail?"

"It hasn't been sorted yet, sir. None of the men can find the letter opener."

"Well, get me some coffee."

"That would be a problem."

"Don't tell me -- ."

"Afraid so. No one knows how to work the Mr. Coffee."

"Call Joe DiMaggio. Call the press office."

"They don't answer. Ever since Lesley Stahl, Helen Thomas and Ann Compton decided to stay home and crochet Kleenex box covers, there wasn't much for the staff to do."

Better yet, get me the secretary of health and human services."

"I was afraid of that."

"Why? We have an important budget meeting before lunch."

"I don't know how to tell you this sir, but Margaret Heckler's office just called and said the secretary was going to be tied up all day."

"Doing what?"

"Wallpapering the powder room."

"Well, get me the head of Metro. It took me 45 minutes to get in on the subway this morning and I want to complain."

"I'll try. But the last time I called Carmen Turner's office, they said she was home."

"Doing what?"

"Defrosting her freezer."

"This is an outrage. I'm going to the Supreme Court."

"You can't, sir. Sandra Day O'Connor decided to take your advice and stay home, too. The court's been closed for three days."

Get that phone. The ringing's driving me nuts."

"It's for you sir. Selwa Roosevelt, head of Protocol."

"Thank God. Hello Selwa? What can I do for you? You need what? The name of my wife's rug man? I'll have to get back to you on that. Yes, as soon as possible. I know it's important, Selwa. Yes, I know I owe you one. Fine. Bye."

"It's NASA on line one, Mr. Buchanan. They sound upset."

"Hello? Yes. What? Sally Ride was scheduled for the shuttle launch today and you can't find her? Have you tried her at home? She's what? Cleaning the baseboards in the guest room? Well, that's your problem, not mine. How should I know how to get her back?"

"We got the coffee machine working, sir. How about a cup?"

"Cream. No sugar. And get me Jeane Kirkpatrick on the phone. We need to go over that secret Nicaraguan report."

"I've tried her several times already. Her husband said she was too busy to come to the phone. Something about cleaning out the linen closet."

"This is an outrage. Don't these women realize the country needs them? Where's Maureen Reagan?"

"Baking 'S'mores for a church yard sale."

"Nancy Kassenbaum?"

"Doing her Christmas card list."

"Don't these women want to work anymore?"

"I'm afraid not, sir. But we do have a few resumes that just came in the mail. Maybe we could start hiring replacements."

"That's a good idea. Read me the one on top."

"You mean the one from a Mrs. Phyllis Schlafly?"