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Public hands President a 'honeymoon' extension

Seven months into his first term, President Reagan apparently has weathered his first crisis -- his bout with the nation's air controllers. The problem persists. But public support, with Mr. Reagan from the outset of the strike, remains unabated.

Critics of the President keep extending their forecast of the end of his honeymoon. At first it was to be after a month or two, then 100 days, then, perhaps, at six months.

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Now, with Reagan maintaining his high standing in the polls, these critics are giving Reagan a year before, as they see it, the roof caves in on him.

From veteran observers and politicians, here and around the United States, comes this assessment of the President:

* Reagan probably will continue his mastery of Congress, pulling in the support he needs from conservative House Democrats to keep his high-priority economic programs in motion.

that means that Reagan's political strength is such today that he may well be able to bring about further cuts in social programs as he seeks to bring down a deficit that apparently is moving toward the $70 billion range.

* Reagan's momentum may stop short, however, of putting through his social programs -- tax credits for private-parochial schools, school prayers, and antiabortion legislation. On these issues Reagan will have difficulty keeping all of the House Republicans behind him -- a prerequisite for the coalition to function.

* But Reagan is expected to find a positive response in Congress for his "get-tough" crime legislation and for a buildup in the US military posture.

* THe President still receives the highest of marks for the way he has been able to communicate with Congress and with the American people. Reagan's press conference last week at his ranch retreat won widespread approval. With his informal manner and dress, his easy, relaxed fielding of questions, once again this former actor was showing himself to be highly skilled in the art of politics.

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Actually, Reagan has held only three formal press conferences in Washington. Yet members of the media have not been overly critical of this failure to get together with them, mainly because Reagan has been going through a rather protracted convalescence period since the assassination attempt last April.

There seems little doubt that the President's personal popularity remains high. But what is more important to this administration is that the public continues to trsut him.

There is widespread evidence that the majority of voters who backed Reagan last fall is still behind him, still believing that he can "deliver" on his promises to turn the economy around and make the US a more respected nation.

Reagan's future, and perhaps final, rating rests on how his tax-cut and spending-cut programs work. But seven months into the President's firm term, the public, for the most part, appears to be patiently awaiting the impact of his "supply side" approach on inflation and the lagging economy.

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