Most Americans, it's safe to say, would be just as happy to never hear the word "Monicagate" or any variation thereof again.
Alas, Robert Ray, the independent counsel who took over from Kenneth Starr, has other ideas. He has let it be known that the option of prosecuting Bill Clinton after he leaves the White House is very much open.
That shouldn't be a surprise. The possibility of putting Monica-related perjury charges before a jury came up during Mr. Starr's tenure. Moreover, any number of Clinton defenders during the impeachment drama pointed out that while the charges against the president did not rise to the level of removing him from office, they could - and perhaps by implication should - be subject to prosecution after January 2001. As Mr. Ray points out, the principle that no man is above the law still holds.
But things are not quite so clear-cut as that. Legal definitions aside, the charges against President Clinton are wrapped in politics. How will the issue play? Voters may feel the president has already been put through a legal wringer. They could resent any effort to draw the Clinton legal cloud over the Bush-Gore race. A similar attitude could sway a jury.
That's not an argument for dropping the matter. Just for recognizing there's more involved here than the usual prosecutorial discretion.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society