Bill Clinton has always been a master of manipulation. Smooth. Articulate. Unflappable.
And then, on Sunday, a few predictable questions from Fox News' Chris Wallace turned him into a glaring, red-faced, finger-jabbing, obnoxious frat boy ticked that he had just been put on academic probation.
It wasn't as though Wallace was uniquely abrasive -- he asked Clinton why he didn't "do more to put bin Laden and al-Qaida out of business when you were president." Which is an excellent and obvious question, considering that Clinton did nothing after the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, nothing after the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, nothing after the bombings of the American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, and nothing after the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, among other Islamist attacks on American targets.
Clinton answered by accusing Wallace of conducting a "nice little conservative hit job." Clinton made the wholly fabricated and entirely delusional claim that during his presidency, conservatives had "claimed that I was too obsessed with bin Laden" -- which is somewhat like saying that during the Lewinsky scandal, Republicans had fretted that Clinton was too prudish.
Clinton put the capper on his crazy moonbat-fest by wrapping himself in unwarranted sanctimoniousness: "I've never criticized President Bush, and I don't think this is useful. But you know we do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is only one-seventh as important as Iraq."
Clinton's decision to go Howard Dean leaves us with one question: Was Clinton telling the truth, or was he lying? Not with regard to the facts -- expecting Bill Clinton to stick with the facts is like asking him not to hit on the nearest non-400 pound female, age 16 to 45. The real question is whether this was all an elaborate put-on. Was Clinton faking Jack Nicholson in "The Shining," or was he truly channeling Charles Manson?
Clinton is certainly capable of such a performance. He is a serial adulterer, a perjurer, a likely rapist and perhaps the oiliest successful politician in the long history of American politics. He could summon tears at will for the cameras -- who's to say he couldn't summon up an Al Pacino "Scarface" moment for Chris Wallace?
Then again, because Clinton is such a tremendously good liar, it's tempting to say that this wasn't an act at all. When Clinton lies, he generally tells lies that can pass for the truth -- say, denying that he had sex with that woman -- rather than lies that can be easily fact-checked by glancing at the index of the 9/11 commission report.
Former Clinton advisor Dick Morris says that the "Willie Stark" Bill Clinton is the "real Clinton," that the enraged Clinton is "the man those who have worked for him have come to know."
And there is little doubt that Clinton is used to a fawning press: In the week prior to Wallace's interview, a quick search of LexisNexis revealed that not a single reporter asked Clinton about his administration's negligent handling of terrorism, despite the fact that Clinton ripped the Bush administration's Iraq policy on "Larry King Live" on Sept. 20, and tore into the ABC docudrama "The Path to 9/11" in the weeks leading up to its airdate of Sept. 10.
What did Clinton's rant do for him, politically speaking? It shored up his base at MoveOn.org and Huffington Post -- no small matter, considering that Sen. Hillary Clinton has become a whipping boy for the radical left. Clinton's swipe at Fox News scored him some points with the rest of the mainstream media. His last-ditch effort to paint himself as a security president aided the Democratic Party in its desperate attempt to refocus the security issue for the 2006 election.
In the end, it doesn't really matter whether Clinton's berserk outburst was fake or genuine. His allies on the left are so unbalanced that they are willing to cheer him on even if he's a certifiable Bellevue case. As long as he spouts the conspiratorial talking points, babbles about conservative "hypocrisy" and blames the Bush administration for not catching Osama bin Laden, his followers are satiated. The deranged radical left doesn't want Bill Clinton, circa 1995 -- they want Bill Clinton as Howard Dean. And Clinton always gives his people what they want.