BELIEVING YOUR OWN PR

BELIEVING YOUR OWN PR

pinning scenarios can be a useful exercise, helping the spinners visualize all the possible facets of a situation and plan how to respond to them.

Building castles in the air - exploring the pleasant side of the ''What if?'' coin - is an enjoyable pastime. Virtually everyone does it, from youngsters starting their careers and hoping for boundless success to older folks winding down their work and dreaming of calm, pleasant respite.But the problem comes when the spinners and the castle-builders begin to think of their creations as facts - and start to pass them off that way. That's dangerous. At the very least, it sets people up for an unpleasant encounter with a grimmer reality. As the old saying goes, ''When you start to believe your own public relations, watch out.''

Which brings us to the presidential candidates, who are staring at burgeoning budget-surplus forecasts and beginning to crank out plans and promises: saving Social Security and Medicare, reducing the national debt, expanding health care, beefing up military spending, education spending, other domestic spending.

Only trouble is, that key word, ''forecasts,'' is becoming easier and easier to overlook. With a little luck, time will translate it into ''reality.'' But there's no guarantee that will happen. And anyone - candidate or voter - who thinks otherwise is fooling himself.