Today in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton compared herself to Rocky Balboa:
Recalling a famous scene on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Clinton said that ending her presidential campaign now would be as if “Rocky Balboa had gotten halfway up those art museum steps and said, ‘Well, I guess that’s about far enough.'”
“Let me tell you something, when it comes to finishing a fight, Rocky and I have a lot in common. I never quit. I never give up. And neither do the American people,” Clinton said.
It seems to me that she is in a way very much like Rocky. I’m old enough to remember when the original Rocky came out in 1976 (I was 12, if you must know). A small-budget film with an unknown star, it went on to win the Academy Award for best picture (over Taxi Driver, no less) and made Sylvester Stallone into an international star.
And then came Rocky II, which essentially tells the same story but adds the novelty of Adrian emerging from a coma and Rocky risking blindness to fight again. Most appropriate quote of the movie: “I feel like a Kentucky Fried idiot. ” Dreck doesn’t quite describe it.
Rocky III rolled around when I was in college. Once again, same slurring actor, same story, only this time we add a genuinely pissed-off Mr. T, who gets to utter such priceless lines as, “I’m gonna torture him. I’m gonna crucify him. Real bad.”
By the time Rocky IV showed up, I was a missionary in Bolivia, so I didn’t see it until after I got home. Here we have Rocky Balboa as spokesman for world peace and the end of the Cold War. And we get Soviet archvillain Drago, who gets this gem of dialogue: “I must break you.”
At this point, Rocky had overstayed his welcome by at least two films, but Stallone wasn’t finished. I could tell you what Rocky V was about, but I never bothered to see it. At that point, Rocky Balboa was like an uninvited houseguest who simply won’t leave.
In 2006 Stallone dragged his 60-year-old body back into the ring one last time (at least I hope so). What many hoped might be an interesting reinvention of the series was a disappointment. As one reviewer put it:
Surely, Stallone wouldn’t make another one just to return to the same old formula, or so the idea went: He probably has something new to say! He probably has a bite into a really good story! This is probably going to be almost as good as the first one and better than any of the others! Well, actually, no, no and no.
It’s this Rocky that Hillary reminds me of. Way back in 1992, she and her husband were outsiders from Arkansas who suddenly made it big, like the slurring pugilist. But 16 years later we’ve seen all the sequels; the series has gone way past its due. Rather than seeing her as someone who has the strength to run all the way up the art museum steps, I see her as Stallone sitting in a studio boss’s office, pitching Rocky V, explaining that it will kill at the box office.
It won’t. And she won’t win.