The wheels on the Clinton Machine start coming off, so Bill Clinton rushes into the fray with the world’s fastest lug wrench. Slick Willie appeared on the Charlie Rose Show (transcript) last night to spin Hillary’s chances of winning Iowa and New Hampshire, or rather, to spin what the world will be like after she loses Iowa and New Hampshire. He says, incredibly, that he never thought Hillary would win Iowa.

Bill Clinton: Edwards might win in Iowa.

Charlie Rose: That’s what I hear.

Bill Clinton: And I think that — but I think it’s a miracle that Hillary’s got a chance to win. She might win this thing in Iowa. And I’m not low-balling it. You can look at the facts here. I think it’s a miracle, because of the way the thing has played out. But she is so good, if she just gets before enough people, and she would be the best president. I don’t think it’s close, if you believe the past record as an agent of positive change is a good indicator of future performance, I don’t think it’s close, who would be most likely to be the most good in the least amount of time.

That’s a fun way of spinning that she had a chance to win Iowa as recently as a month ago but she’s cratering now. Check out RCP’s poll trend charts. The lines don’t lie (but Bill Clinton does).

rcp-iowa.png

And New Hampshire.

rcp-nh.png

The pink line is Hillary, and the green line is Obama. Look at the trends on the two charts above. The South Carolina chart over at RCP shows an identical trend. There are several ways to look at this, but I prefer to look at it as Hillary started tanking as soon as voters started seeing more of her. However you look at it, Bill’s spin doesn’t match the facts very well.

This next clip is vintage Slick Willie spin. Charlie Rose tries to pin Clinton down on why Hillary ought to be elected, and Bill whirls around that drain without ever quite sliding into it. He does offer that Obama is inexperienced and slips in a similar criticism on Edwards, though.

Bill Clinton: But it depends on what — yeah, but it depends what you think the election is about. If you listen to the people who are most strongly for him, they say basically we have to throw away all these experienced people because they have been through the wars of the ’90s, and they made enough decisions and enough calls that they made a few mistakes. And what we want is somebody who started running for president a year after he became a senator because he’s fresh, he’s new, he’s never made a mistake, and he has massive political skills. And we’re willing to risk it. And I, even when I was a governor and young and thought I was the best politician in the Democratic Party, I didn’t run the first time. I could have.

Charlie Rose: That would have been ’88?

Bill Clinton: ’88. And I had lots of Democratic governors encouraging me to. I knew in my bones I shouldn’t run — that I was a good enough politician to win, but I didn’t think I was ready to be president.

Charlie Rose: But do you — look at this. I mean —

Bill Clinton: Let the voters —

Charlie Rose: Is Joe Biden ready to be president?

Bill Clinton: Absolutely.

Charlie Rose: Is Chris Dodd ready to be president?

Bill Clinton: I think he’s —

Charlie Rose: Is Bill Richardson ready to be president?

Bill Clinton: I think all of them have — let me just explain it this way. I think all of them know enough and made enough decisions, including a few mistakes, which I think is good. I want somebody to be president who has made a few mistakes. I don’t know season that’s never made a mistake. Never had to correct one.

Charlie Rose: You believe you learn more from failure than you do victory?

Bill Clinton: No, but I think you learn something from both, if you got any sense. But the point I’m trying to make is, not to criticize — I have nothing bad to say about any of these people. I think Obama — I get tickled watching him. He’s got great skills. It depends on what the American people and the Democrats in the first instance believe is more important. Is it more important to have somebody who is basically by his very nature a compelling, incredibly attractive, highly intelligent symbol of transformation, or is it more information to have somebody who also would similar symbolize change by being the first woman president, but has actually done incredible numbers of different things to change other people’s lives? And she’s mostly been another direction person. She’s never ran for office before 2000. I think that matters.

Shorter Bill Clinton: Neither Hillary nor Obama have much experience in office, so vote for her because her win would be just as symbolic as Obama’s would be.

Elsewhere in the interview, Clinton spins the 2006 election as “our first post 9-11 election” (what happened to 2002 and 2004?). What a piece of work.

More: The Clintons must be worried about a presidential library story that’s due to hit tomorrow.