So This Is the Truth

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WASHINGTON: As usual, Bill Clinton had read the polls: Americans tolerate him and hate his inquisitor; they want him focused on the job they hired him to carry out; and gosh, if Hillary can stand the sight of him, well, then they can too. So with narrowed eyes and emotions as constrained as a robot's, he gave the pollsters what they wanted. Did he satisfy his constituents? That won't be known for days, until the last sentence of his 4-minute-and-10-second monologue is gleaned and parsed; until the spin cycle concludes.

At least he didn't cry. No one would have bought that anyway; a tearful confession was just a revenge fantasy for loyal wives, Republicans and the reporters forced to spend a dead day staking out the White House. But America needed -- it deserved -- some substitute for the tears. If not a palpable display of emotion, then something lofty it could cash in for seven months' of bottom-feeding. Something to conclude the transaction. Clinton needed just a bit of eloquence to show that he meant to take charge again not just of his life but of the nation's. This time, sadly, the President who can talk his way out of anything, said nothing.