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Here's what newspapers around the nation are saying:


WHITEWATER COST: The second week of Whitewater hearings have not brought out the best in any party involved. The case is choked with partisanship . . . (and) Americans tuning in to the hearings could not have been impressed.

So far, no criminal laws or federal ethics have been shown to have been breached in this case. Both special counsel Robert Fiske, a Republican, and a nonpartisan federal ethics committee this week found no evidence of violations.

We agree Whitewater must be delved into. But with no evidence so far, the question ought to be asked: Is this process "restoring America's faith in their system," as some on the GOP side of the aisle have suggested? Or is it merely feeding cynicism and doubt and detracting attention from larger issues to be dealt with?

So far it is questionable whether the cost . . . is commensurate with the effect on the nation's civic business.


ABORTION VIOLENCE: The killing of a doctor and his security escort at an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Fla., was not just a coldblooded murder. It was an indictment of those in the anti-abortion movement who have looked the other way as violence has escalated - and a call to arms for responsible government officials to crack down on what President Clinton aptly described as a "form of domestic terrorism."

The violence, reprehensible in itself, is also a political act depriving women of their constitutionally protected right to an abortion. It requires a strong federal response, including deployment of federal marshals to protect people at those clinics known as trouble spots. . . .

It is sad enough responsible anti-abortion leaders seem unable to head off mayhem. . . . But it is deplorable . . . (that many) seem reluctant to denounce it.


WELFARE DEBATE: One of the central questions underlying the welfare reform debate - what will happen to poor children under the various plans being proposed - ought to preoccupy policymakers. . . . Figuring out how to create caring and stable environments for children in troubled families and violent neighborhoods is the key to easing a slew of social problems, crime chief among them.

The Clinton administration is reviewing child welfare, family preservation and foster care programs . . . (as it) sorts out budget priorities for next year. . . . All this needs to be calmly discussed. . . . The most vulnerable of children should not become fodder for political or ideological squabbling among adults.


RIGHT SPEECH: It is not often a leader stands up and says, at the right time and in the right place, exactly the right thing. Such was the case with the . . . inaugural speech of the National Urban League's new president (Hugh Price). Separatism (he said) would be a regression and blaming white racism for all the woes that beset the black community is a formula for failure.

"Many whites of good will have accompanied us on our long journey for racial, social and economic justice. Just as we denounce misleading stereotypes of African-Americans, it is morally repugnant as well to impugn an entire people, especially longstanding allies, like Jews, because of the unconscionable behavior of some of them."

What a difference in perspective from the recent convention of the NAACP, which felt compelled to invite as a speaker Louis Farrakhan, who is given to periodic anti-Semitic and racist diatribes.