Meanwhile, a few eyebrows arched skyward at a White House official's description of the reason for Wendy Borcherdt's departure. Borcherdt, an assistant to public liaison Elizabeth Dole, left because of a "constant clash of personalities," the official said.

"They love that, don't they?" said a representative of a women's group, who conjured up an image of two angry, flailing hens.

Press secretary Larry Speakes didn't dispute that characterization at the daily briefing yesterday, but another White House official familiar with the situation said, "Nothing could be further from the truth," and to suggest that Dole and Borcherdt parted ways over personalities was "tacky."

Meanwhile, the expected transfer of Borcherdt to another "high visibility" position--possibly assistant secretary of education for intergovernmental relations--drew another round of brickbats from disgruntled conservatives. They are already likening her transfer to the departures of political affairs director Lyn Nofziger and national security affairs adviser Richard V. Allen.

The right wing hopes to hear some stereo from women's groups, too. "This will be seen by the women's community, broadly speaking, as an indication that there's not that much concern with women's issues," said the Heritage Foundation's Willa Johnson, who did a stint in the Reagan personnel office.