The public may have forgotten the Iran-contra hearings in the press of more urgent matters -- pennant races, the football strike, the children's return to school. But the hearings are still occupying the congressional committees, which are locked in behind-the-scenes battles over the final report.

The big issue is over how much blame or absolution should be given President Reagan and Vice President Bush for their parts in the scandal.

We reported that there was more to Bush's role than the meager information that came out in the public hearings. On June 8, we wrote that a "still-secret internal memo implicates {Bush's national security adviser, Donald Gregg} -- and by extrapolation Bush -- to a much greater degree in the secret contra aid program." On June 21 we identified the document further as "a revealing memo that was placed in Bush's briefing book before a crucial meeting on his schedule."

The memo, dated April 30, 1986, and titled "Briefing Memorandum for the Vice President," was released this month by the Iran-contra committees. Republicans on the House committee, trying to protect Bush, had argued for weeks against releasing the memo and the depositions of Gregg and two other Bush aides.

The memo said Bush was to meet the next morning with a former CIA agent who "will provide a briefing on the status of the war in El Salvador and resupply of the contras." It suggests that the "private" resupply of the contras, which involved money from the ongoing Iranian arms sales, was known to the vice president and his staff long before they have admitted hearing about it.

The dustup over the Bush memos is only part of the intense battle as Senate and House committee members review the 80-page executive summary of the final report. The summary is stamped "Top Secret" and is further classified with a special code name. But a committee source who read the summary told us there is "very little in it that deserved to be classified, except maybe the names of some of the Iranians the {White House} was dealing with."

An argument over how tough to be on Reagan has divided the committees pretty much along party lines. Many Republican members maintain that because former national security adviser Adm. John M. Poindexter swore that Reagan wasn't told about the diversion of Iranian arms sales profits to the contra resupply operation, the hearings amounted to a minor footnote in the history books, and they want the final report to reflect this assessment.

Democrats, on the other hand, insist on labeling the scandal a "constitutional crisis" and want the report to include strong condemnation of the president and his rogue aides for usurping power and shutting out or lying to Congress.

In the long run, the appraisal of Reagan's role will have little effect as he heads into the final year of his presidency. But the attention given to Bush in the report, and whether he is cleared of responsibility or implicated, could have an important impact on the 1988 presidential race.