In one of the opening scenes of the Martin Scorcese movie, Good Fellas, a young Henry Hill must suffer the violent wrath of his father. As his hulking parent stands over him "pounding away," the action freezes, and we hear Henry's voice over the still frame:

My father was always pissed off...and, every once in a while, I had to take a beating. But by then, I didn't care. No matter how many beatings I took, I wouldn't listen to what he said. I don't think I even heard him. The way I saw it, everybody has to take a beating some time.

Perhaps better than any of his forty-one predecessors, George Bush understood the vagaries of the Oval Office. Reportedly, the stress of the task drove Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover to wander the hallways of the White House talking to portraits of dead presidents. Lyndon Johnson and Abraham Lincoln were famous insomniacs. All presidents seem to age at an alarming rate.

George Bush gets up every day and does his job. It is open season on the president all the time. Some moments are worse than others. This is one of those times in which very little seems to be going right. This analysis piece from Gloria Borger represents the tenor of the media coverage of the Bush administration.

Borger correctly observes: "The problem for this White House now is that Iraq is the overlay for everything."

She is also right to assert that most of the myriad problems for the Bush administration are problems of their own making. Of course, this applies a general truism of life specifically to this presidency, which creates a somewhat distorted impression through the omission of historical context and an acknowledgment of basic human nature.

Having said all that, the key for the President has always been victory in Iraq. Perceived failure in Iraq hamstrings the President in everything he does. As I have written before, the President must know that the clock is running out and it is now or never. He must make progress now. With the public breathing down his neck and Congress looking for every opportunity to embarrass and seek political advantage, the President must operate in the mistake-free zone.

Sometimes people react to stress in positive ways. Sometimes they crater. This President is someone with a track record of responding to adversity with internal toughness. Let's hope he has enough left to push back. Like Henry Hill, I am convinced that the President no longer feels the slings and arrows of outrageous opposition intent on hammering him at every turn.

The way he sees it, every President has to take a beating sometime.

One potentially positive note: there is a lag time in Washington. The President is currently dealing with the consequences of previous poor decisions. It is possible, and one can hope, that even now he is making moves that will pay off and relieve the pressure in the days to come.