FOR A LITTLE peek at the ins and outs of local politics, we take you now (or anytime until election day, for that matter) to downtown city hall, where the difference between the ins and the outs of office is becoming more apparent by the week. There you find the two foremost ins--Marion Barry the Mayor and Arrington Dixon the Council Chairman--running for re-election against a herd of outs. Their declared but mostly unannounced opposition includes almost every other elected officeholder in the building, not to mention a few city hall alumni and selected not-too-reluctant dragons, simultaneously elbodeavor.

This is not to dewing each other while jabbing at Messrs. Barry and Dixon.

The result of this free-for-all-to-end-all is that anything the mayor or chairman says is immediately rebuffed, ridiculed, denied and decried. You expect a bit of this, of course, when the mayor presents his budget to the public with the standard ruffles and flourishes. Mr. Barry says it's balanced and won't require any increase in income or property tax rates; baloney, or words to that effect, come the counters from at least four competing voices in the council offices.

After all, these opponents retort, you can't trust the mayor's revenue figures for the coming fiscal year, and because of that his budget isn't balanced. Certainly estimates of tax collections can be off the mark--and the best local officials, governors and presidents have been known to miss their marks. Doubts and reservations are all right--and we've had more than a few ourselves--but why should people have any greater faith in some political opponent's individual capacity to come up with more accurate projections?

Then there is Mr. Dixon, who announced that he will seek re-election and said three potential candidates for mayor--Mr. Barry, former council chairman Sterling Tucker and former Housing and Urban Development secretary Patricia Roberts Harris--supported him. Not so, said all three the next day, though they did not oppose him, either. Mr. Dixon had also said nine council members supported him, but seven of these denied having made any commitments.

And when you press these same council members for assessments of each other's statements, their feelings about each other are mutual--each is quick to question the motives, credibility and/or intelligence of any others.

A "crisis of confidence" in city hall? Don't believe that, either. Pull up a ringside seat for what should be a lively local campaign. And while you wait for substance, the best way to take it in is with a grain of salt. than Adm. Inman and the Defense Department have suggested. If a more plausible case for severe restrictions exists, the government should make it.