Starr Struck Down

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WASHINGTON: This was the one Ken Starr really needed. When the Supreme Court took a pass Thursday on the two legal disputes that Starr needed to have settled right away -- attorney-client privilege and the testimony of the Secret Service -- it essentially gave Clinton a six-month reprieve.

"For those in the White House who prefer to delay things -- and that's most of them -- this is fantastic news," says TIME White House correspondent Karen Tumulty. "Starr wanted to present an airtight case to Congress this summer; now he'll have to wait for these decisions at least until fall. And Republicans won't touch the issue anywhere near the elections; whatever case Starr had would be immediately politicized and be robbed of its credibility."

Special Report Which leaves the President off the hook until January. Unless... "This puts the pressure squarely on Monica for now," says Tumulty. "If Starr can cut a deal with her and get her to talk, he has a shot at building a case this summer." The problem with that is that Monica Lewinsky, by herself, does not an airtight case make. It seems much more likely that Starr will wait it out -- and thus our long national nightmare has just gotten quite a bit longer.