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Thursday, July 30, 1998 Published at 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK

'Get it over with'

Commentators in the American media, who have followed every twist and turn in the Monica Lewinsky affair, have responded to the news that President Clinton is to testify in the investigation next month with what sounds almost like relief.

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"Enough Stalling - Get It Over With," is the headline of an editorial in the Washington Post. As the investigation has ground on, with each new intricacy reported, people could be excused for thinking that the whole saga has nothing to do with anything that might affect their lives, the paper says.

[ image: Truth must be told: Pundits' message to Mr Clinton]
Truth must be told: Pundits' message to Mr Clinton
"The market goes up, the market goes down, and this investigation goes on and on," says the Post. "And yet, like some disease you don't know you have, this investigation is tearing at the innards of our governmental system."

President Clinton has prolonged the affair with "one timeout after another," the paper argues, urging him to come clean.

"Do it, Mr President: Get this thing over with so we can all move on. The IMF is bleeding, Japan is sinking, Russia is going broke, and Social Security needs fixing.

"We cannot approve, but we can all understand."

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The New York Times says Mr Clinton's agreement to testify at the White House rather than before a grand jury is a "reasonable compromise".

But the Times says the videotaped testimony he is due to give on 17 August should only be the first step in telling the truth to the American people.

"The desire for a president who can be believed and who can govern in an undistracted way is growing," says the Times, citing a panel discussion on the ABC Nightline programme.

Panellists on the programme, who included former colleagues of the president, were unanimous about the need for him to come forward and tell the truth, says the paper.

Neither handlers nor skilled lawyers can relieve President Clinton of the burden of his contract with the American people, warns the Times. "As his former colleagues said, it is past time for Bill Clinton to pick it up."

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USA Today says what it calls the nation's most salacious stand-off appears "finally - and thankfully" to be nearing a close, though it remains unclear how it will end. "All that is clear is what was clear all along: someone is lying," the paper says.

It says that if it emerges that Mr Clinton has lied, the public could turn on him with a vengeance, and his presidency and legacy would be "tarnished beyond respect".

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