The depressing truth: Given the alternative, it really would be great news.

I can’t do justice to what you’re about to see. The spectacle of the president bugging out of his own press conference to go to a Christmas party is weird enough, but having Clinton back at the White House podium fielding questions on the hottest domestic issue of the day shoots past deja vu and lands firmly in “am I hallucinating?” territory. (The good news: It turned Twitter into an hour-long snark free-for-all, with Michael Goldfarb taking first prize.) I get that The One’s trying to leverage BJ’s popularity to pressure Democratic fencesitters on the tax deal. What I don’t get is why he’d leave him alone to address reporters, suggesting either (a) that Obama doesn’t respect a former president — who’s doing him a favor — enough to change his schedule to accommodate him or (b) Obama’s confidence in his own ability to influence the caucus is now so low that he figures the tax deal will stand a better chance if he just gets out of the spotlight entirely. The second option seems implausible given what we know of The One’s ego, but after yesterday’s revolt in the House and after a full year of epic fail in selling ObamaCare to the public, who knows what he’s thinking anymore? As a presidential scholar said to McClatchy, putting it mildly, “He is not a great persuader.”

Adding to the exquisite oddness of the scene: Thanks to his op-ed this morning insisting that Obama totally rolled the GOP on the tax cuts deal, Charles Krauthammer is now “a brilliant man” in Clinton’s eyes. Exit question: The White House is very keen to reassure liberals that Obama is not, repeat not, trying to “triangulate” ahead of 2012. Er, is a big showy meeting at the White House with Bill Clinton really the best way to communicate that message? What’s next, a joint press conference with Dick Morris? Click the image to watch.