Hillary's emails, which last week were an irritant, have become an annoyance that threatens to become a problem that could become catastrophe. Her allies on Capitol Hill and her friends in the media haven't bailed, not yet, but suddenly the allies have a case of the nerves, like a man in the theater who gets a whiff of what he thinks may be smoke and starts looking to locate the exits.
The Washington Post wonders whether her experience, until now a major selling point, might actually be a liability. Anyone with her experience should have recognized the warning signs. London's Financial Times, looking this way from across the sea, finds evidence of "Clinton fatigue." The New York Times reports more in sorrow than anger (though there's a hint of that, too) that the bright days for the inevitable president have darkened considerably.
There's speculation in Congress that she could face criminal charges for the curious management of her emails. The White House concedes, with more rue than repentance, that President Obama corresponded with her through her suspect email account, the account she used to conduct official business so her messages wouldn't be vulnerable to official inquiries.
Many a young man has been counseled to "wrong no man and write to no woman," and now, in the age of equality, it turns out that such a warning should be for the ladies, too.
The wise men and women surrounding Hillary, who have hidden her in a dark place since the story broke first in The New York Times more than a week ago, are divided now about whether this is the right time for her to come out of hiding to answer questions.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein tells her to "step up" and "come forward." Bloomberg News, citing "three sources with knowledge of her team's plan," says Hillary adopted "the time-tested Clinton approach" to say as little as possible, feed the media a little meat (mostly gristle), and lie and wait for the inevitable new news cycle. "It just makes sense to settle in for a little bit," says one of Bloomberg's three sources, "people have very short memories."
But hunkering down to let the storm subside, only works if there's nothing else coming. With the Clintons, there's always something coming.
Hunkering down was the point of Hillary releasing 55,000 pages of emails last week, but the gesture was transparent and no one was fooled. Everyone knew she wouldn't have let fly with 55,000 emails unless she knew there was nothing fatally incriminating in them. Proving there's nothing to hide only works if there's nothing to hide. So far the strategy "move along now, there's nothing here to see" has clearly not worked.
Some of her friends are trying to help, but may be making things worse. "The energy in this story is enormously defused by committing to release emails in some form or fashion," Chris Lehane, who managed the Clinton White House response to Whitewater and "the bimbo eruptions" that led to Monica Lewinsky, insists the Whitewater and Monica allegations, and the surrounding circus, were "far more serious."
Paul Begala, a veteran of dealing with the fibs and stretchers in the Clinton White House, reaches to measure the velocity and intensity of the current allegations with metaphors from the outhouse. "Voters do not give [doo-doo] about what email Hillary used," he tells CNN News. "They do not even give a [burst of flatulence]."
No doubt true, but what worries the Democrats on the Hill is not the size of the email story now, but the size of what is likely more to come.
Everybody understands sex and money. Bubba discovered money only recently, and under the tutelage of the missus. Back home in Arkansas, if he had enough money in his pocket for a Big Mac, a bucket of fries and a compliant lady with big hair, that was enough.
Hillary, however, is about money. Bubba defends the Clinton Foundation, the legal name for Bubba, Hillary and Chelsea, for taking big money from foreign governments with reputations for treating women like a clutch of soiled Kleenex. Neither Bubba nor Hillary say they like what those countries do but they do like the color of their money. If those governments expect special consideration from Hillary as president merely for sending her a few millions now, what difference, at this point, does it make? The rafters creak.