THE Republican revolution has already gone very far. It has changed the question being asked in Washington from ''Will it succeed?'' to ''How far will it go?''
President Clinton does, indeed, threaten to veto the GOP-shaped budget and tax cuts passed by the Republicans. But he's making it clear that he is ready to deal if he can get some changes that will make the measures a little easier on the poor and not so rewarding of the rich.
Mr. Clinton doubtless will get some of these concessions. But after it is all over, it will be clear that the Republican revolution has rolled on - and, pretty much, right over the president.
However they will finally be dealt with, both welfare and Medicare reform are being swept along by this revolution. The movement of power and influence from the states to Washington - starting back with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal - is being reversed. Already, bills that overhaul and consolidate dozens of worker-training programs and shift their administration to the states now have passed both houses.
For years the Democrats have fiercely opposed a capital gains tax cut. But the president now seems to be ready to make a deal on that, too.
Clinton is warning that he'll veto any tax cuts until he's signed legislation that will balance the budget. But he has conceded, in effect, that there will be a tax cut by having come up with one of his own, one that merely says these reductions should be smaller.
The GOP revolution rolls on. And the president confirms these Republican successes by giving in even as he is resisting.
Last spring the president took on Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in what he termed a Great Debate. In this dialogue Clinton defends the old, FDR way of doing business. He's already lost that debate and the legislative battle that ensued. Mr. Gingrich is crowing. So is Bob Dole. They should.
The president is hoping that in the merging of his taxing and budget ideas with current GOP-shaped legislation he will be able to blur - in the eyes of the voters - just exactly how it all was put together. He thinks he may be able to convince the public that even the Republican legislation, particularly that which provides for welfare and Medicare reform and tax relief for the middle-income groups, came from proposals he made in the 1992 campaign.
But the voters have good memories. They remember Clinton's promises along this line. And they also remember he didn't fulfill these promises. It will be very difficult, probably impossible, for the president to be given a share of the credit. More than likely the voters will simply hail Gingrich and company and the GOP revolution.
MEANWHILE, as he gears up for the upcoming campaign, the president is doing his utmost to come out from under the shadow of the Republican force that took over this city in 1994.
At a recent Monitor lunch Clinton told journalists that he was taking steps to see to it that he no longer would be ''defined'' by his ''relationship with Congress.'' He said he would do this by using the presidency as a ''bully pulpit'' and ''by using the president's power of the presidency to do things, actually accomplish things.''
Clinton's speeches against racism, smoking, and the battering of women have been in this ''bully pulpit'' vein. And now his move toward troop involvement in Bosnia is something the president can do by himself if the Congress won't go along with him.
But when it comes to domestic legislation it will be very hard for the president to dissuade the voters from believing he lost the initiative to the Republicans during the last half of his term - and that they rolled over him.
Clinton is doing his utmost to come out from under the shadow of the Republican force that took over this city in 1994.