Maybe it's just the seemingly interminable winter or maybe it's the hassle over Reaganomics, but the Republicans appear a little frazzled around the edges. Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has sent an angry six-page letter to White House chief of staff James A. Baker III bawling him out for a recent TV appearance. Baker said the average off-year election loss for the party in power was 38 House seats and indicated that anything short of that would be a success of some sort, or at least not a defeat.

Gingrich called this "virtually a declaration of war on the Republican Party" that provoked "phenomenal" anger among GOP House members. It was "divisive," spread "dismay and despair" and "aroused new candidates, money and energy for the Democrats" while decreasing "the flow of money and energy to the Republican Party." He accused Baker of caring more about his credibility the day after the election "than our survival the day of the election."

He also said freshman House Republicans described a recent meeting with Baker in terms such as "outrage, "disaster," "despair," "infuriating," and "disillusioned."

Meanwhile, Republican national chairman Richard Richards said Sen. Robert Packwood of Oregon, chairman of the GOP Senatorial Campaign Committee, should resign for saying President Reagan is destroying the party's appeal to blacks, women, Jews and Hispanics.