AFTER FOUR YEARS and $40 million, some people think independent prosecutor Ken Starr ought to put up or shut up. This strikes me as hasty. Ken Starr likes investigating, and a lot of people feel good knowing he's out there all the time looking into things. The world's a settled, explicable place with Bill Clinton eternally doing whatever it is he does, and Ken Starr eternally trying to find out what it is and how he does it.

And why force Ken Starr to play his hand before he's even near ready, reliving the Pepperdine case every day? Few know it, but Ken Starr's a sensitive guy. Some people may think he likes subpoenaing grandmothers and proctologists. You can bet he doesn't. To badly paraphrase William S. Gilbert, when constabulary duty's to be done, an independent prosecutor's life is not a happy one.Here's my compromise: Renew Ken Starr's term each time a president is elected. Then install him in a little desk of his own in the Oval Office. Ken Starr would sit at a little Murphy bed-type desk, taking notes. Whenever anything tended to offend him or simply titillate, he would tattle to an eternally sitting grand jury on a special prosecutorial hotline. No need for subpoenas, since Ken Starr is also the key witness. Indictments could be returned via fax. Trials could begin the next day. At last, efficiency and a confident public.