In 1962, Richard Nixon organized his autobiography around Six Crises, understanding his life up to that point as the product of six trials during his public life that defined him as a person. Nixon's basic assertion was absolutely right to the extent that all successful public figures must overcome the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" (as well the slings and arrows that are justly deserved). This is especially true of American presidents, who must run a political marathon, survive the gauntlet of public inspection, the vagaries of press coverage, and withstand the temptations of accumulated power and celebrity.

A Time of Crisis for Hillary Clinton. For the first time in a long time, Mrs. Clinton finds herself under intense scrutiny from her opponents and the mainstream media. Are they "piling on"? Of course. Is it fair? This is a query unworthy of an answer; it is merely what it is. Welcome to the race to be president of the United States, Mrs. Clinton.

A much more pertinent side question: what took so long for genuine media scrutiny?

For some reason, Hillary Clinton enjoyed extraordinarily positive press coverage for the last eight years. Why? I have no satisfying explanation. Had the left-leaning mainstream media been cultivating her and protecting her as their favored candidate? Not likely. This hypothesis is deliciously inviting, but it seems far too facile and "breathtakingly" conspiratorial. Perhaps the media felt genuine sympathy for the famously humiliated wife of the most celebrated philandering husband in all of American history? Or perhaps the media believed that they went too far during impeachment, and they owed the Clintons a "pay-back call" or two. Maybe. The Beltway press corps is not completely amoral; that is, they conform to their own set of ethics and an esoteric code of fairness. No matter, the facts are more important than the explanation. The undeniable truth is that Mrs. Clinton glided above the fray for a long time.

However, the gravy train now appears to be over--or, at the very least, on hiatus. For most of the day, Matt Drudge featured Hillary stories at the top of the page. Unusual? Not in itself, but, if you followed the links, the reporting agencies were extraordinary (no FOX News, no Washington Times, and no Dick Morris columns). From NPR to Ron Fournier to ABC News, the mainstream media was (and is) in hot pursuit, smelling blood, and moving in for the kill. This qualifies as a full-fledged media feeding frenzy.

An aside:
Last week, as I listened to a Sean Hannity tirade on the media, I considered a post entitled: "Who are they and what do they want?" For all those who equate the mainstream press with the Clinton News Networks, this week has been very confusing.

However, there is precedent for this hostile coverage of the Clintons. Think early 1998. In fact, things have not looked this bad for the Clintons since Sam Donaldson, on This Week, predicted Bill was finished as president back in January of that year. Suggesting that the President might resign by the end of the week, Donaldson led a stampede of reporters breathlessly anticipating the complete disintegration of the Clinton presidency as a result of the Monica Lewinsky revelation.

What happened? The Clintons dug in and stone-walled. Defying all the conventional wisdom that cover-ups (rather than misdeeds) kill administrations, the Clintons covered up, shut up, and put 'em up. Miraculously, they fought their way out of an extraordinarily desperate situation. The mainstream media relented. Would the Washington press corps have given up so easily, if they had George Bush or Ronald Reagan in similar circumstances? Probably not. But that is irrelevant. What matters for our discussion here: Team Clinton weathered the storm.

Will Hillary and company fight their way out of this crisis? For a long time, I have referred to the Senator from New York as Clinton-44. Why? She is tough. She is fearless. And she has assembled the best political talent available. They are veterans. They have been to "Hell and Back." Nobody in the Clinton camp is likely to panic over bad press or a bad week. They have been through much worse and survived.

An irony. One great advantage the Clinton machine had during impeachment was the silence of Bill Clinton. He went underground and let his special forces cut throats and blow bridges in the dead of night. In the most counter-intuitive, disciplined act of his lifetime, the President stayed mum for nearly a year. No press conferences. No public comment outside of heavily scripted and insulated state events. No wandering through McDonalds. Absolutely no access.

Evidently, Bill doesn't remember that part of his triumph. In his mind's eye, I am almost certain that he recalls himself as a silver-tongued devil with a mischievous smile who charmed his way out of a tough spot. This is unfortunate for Hillary. Who caused the most problems for Hillary Clinton in the aftermath of a poor performance in last week's debate? Bill Clinton. We are tired of the red-faced finger-wagging. We are tired of Clinton's moralizing and seeming ignorance of his own political history and penchant for skullduggery. We are tired of his ridiculous accusations.

Bill is much more effective as myth. Let him strut and smile and wink--but the truth is that the charming bad boy of politics is not nearly as rakishly seductive as we remember. The stem-winding political sorcerer is not nearly as articulate or mesmerizing as advertised.

What to do? Tell Bill to shush (although he may be more effective with the Democratic base than I think). Dig in. Hand the ball to the Clinton KGB. Stay on message. Keep raking in that cash (money covers a multitude of political sins). Keep on working out (Mrs. Clinton has never looked better--fodder for another post--but very telling). Keep on smiling, shaking hands, and acting like you are president.

Can Hillary survive this inevitable time of troubles?

Nobody Knows Anything--but time will tell.