There's no question about it, the times they are confusing. Or perhaps I'm the only one who's confused. Some, I have noticed, seem quite sure of themselves, sure for instance of what is right and what is wrong and that Geraldine Ferraro has just stood the public weal on its head by agreeing to swig a Pepsi on the tube.

Perhaps I'm insensitive, perhaps just confused -- perhaps, as has occasionally been suggested, both. Still, I know a number of people, actually, who I believe for half a million dollars would be willing to sell more than Pepsi and would fight for the chance to do it, although they are staunch guardians of the public morals, especially on television. (They like to do that on television because it makes their faces familiar, gives them a national reputation for witty, high-minded omniscience, and boosts their lecture fees, which is where the real money is.) Shall I name names? I think not. The defenders of the faith can be ruthless in their own defense. But really, if George Washington can peddle Datsuns and Rodney Dangerfield flog Miller Lite, is there any reason why the recently defeated vice presidential candidate can't make a fast half a mill (plus residuals, I trust) bellying up to the bar for a Pepsi? Was not our own dear president the pitchman for General Electric, even as Betty Furness turned her charms to Westinghouse? Do we think the less of them because their testimonials were bought and paid for? Do we find them more or less believable now?

"She will open, with one magnificent stroke," exclaimed the governor of New York, "a whole new frontier for the United States!" Gov. Cuomo, speaking out on the jacket of Rep. Ferraro's campaign biography "Gerry! A Woman Making History," published last September, could not have known how prescient his statement was. Just think, for instance, what Rep. Ferraro's breakthrough could do for her fellow Democrat, Jeane Kirkpatrick, until recently ambassador to the United Nations and now out of work and back home looking. Only last year she might have had to settle for campaigning for president or vice president -- and she could lose, too. Now she can get up there with the big boys, bringing home the big money -- a no-lose situation, even if politics turns bad.

I don't see Ambassador Kirkpatrick endorsing Pepsi, though; and Avon products seem a bit on the frivolous side. No, I see Ambassador Kirkpatrick with something serious -- in boots and fatigues and leaning against a military chopper, maybe, its blades churning, or perhaps tearing through the woods with a McCulloch chain saw. Something that means business, at any rate. The voice-over (her own voice, of course) repeats the words she spoke at Sunday's brunch in her honor: "The important message of our time is to try to be clear about who one is, what one believes, what one stands for, whom one will stand with." This is dynamite stuff. It could be a real breakthrough. (Remember where you heard it first.) She can always run for president later, when her face is famous. In fact, the same commercials could be used to market both. As Matina Horner, president of Radcliffe, said in Rep. Ferraro's biography, "Any time competent and able women are recognized and become visible, a sense of expectation and prowess is engendered among younger women that they too can aspire to new heights."

So what's the big deal, I ask myself. Is it news that the new heights Geraldine Ferraro is aspiring to are pretty much like the old heights of money and power that men have been aspiring to since they picked up clubs. Is it news that she can be as tempted by the offer of easy money as the next person. There's plenty of precedent for it in the other gender, after all. The real story would have been if she'd turned the offer down.