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Give Socks, and Bill, a Break

ANYONE who has a cat knows cats don't take well to invasions of privacy. Cats don't appreciate the attentions of strangers, especially multiple strangers. They want their space.

Apparently the photographers who lured Chelsea Clinton's cat, Socks, outside the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock last week for a coerced "photo op" had no appreciation of these feline facts. Pictures of a half dozen grown men struggling for up-close shots of a disconcerted Socks enlivened many front pages.

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Readers responded with chuckles, and a touch of disgust, over how desperate the press keeping vigil in Little Rock had become. Clearly, the president-elect isn't coming out with major, or even minor, announcements at anything like the pace needed to keep the press happy. Some otherwise restrained reporters turned a little peevish over this - speculating, for instance, that the slowness of news out of Little Rock hints at an administration that may already have lost its way.

Such journalistic musings may help fill news space, but they have sparse relation to historical fact. Few newly elected presidents have come out with their Cabinet rosters immediately.

Incoming chief executives ought to maintain some purposeful momentum toward inauguration day, and Mr. Clinton is doing that. His meeting with congressional leaders, with President Bush, and his back-to-the-people walk through a black neighborhood in Washington, D.C. - all show attention to building an image of leadership.

We wouldn't hold it against Clinton, either, if he decided to take some time away from the public spotlight. Eighteen straight months of political brainstorming and barnstorming warrants a break. The public is assured by someone who knows how to relax, as well as apply himself to matters of state.

Back to Socks, we hope the kitty is also given quiet time to prepare for life in the White House. A new home is always intriguing for cats, and Socks is about to have that adventure on a grand scale.

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