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A Fallen Starr?

The Independent Counsel law is up for renewal by Congress. It has few supporters as it is currently written. Meanwhile, perhaps the most famous Independent Counsel of them all is under fire.

Increasingly, Kenneth Starr is criticized for his investigations of the president and Mrs. Clinton, including their involvement in the failed Whitewater land deal.

Starr's tangential investigation of President Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky led to Mr Clinton becoming the first elected president ever impeached.

In addition to that impeachment, Starr and his office have won a number of indictments related to Whitewater and other cases.

You might consider this a successful track record. But you may need to reconsider.

In her new book, Lewinsky repeats charges that she was bullied by Starr's representatives, and that her right to representation by an attorney may have been thwarted.

Starr has denied all of these - and other - charges of ethical violations. But he has never explained (for example) why Lewinsky's credibility - on which he staked so much - would vanish in this one area.

Starr is clearly no master of public relations, and his supporters say he is a victim of a political smear campaign. They insist his term as Independent Counsel has been a success.

But one measure of that success won't be indictments or impeachments or even the judgment of history. It will be whether the Independent Counsel law survives Kenneth Starr.

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