Hillary Hopes to be 'Rocky II' in 2012

According to Hillary Clinton, she has a lot in common with Rocky, the movie boxer played by Sylvester Stallone. Quitting now, she told a crowd in Philadelphia, would be tantamount to "Rocky Balboa (getting) halfway up those art museum steps and (saying), ‘Well, I guess that’s about far enough.’"

"Let me tell you something," Hillary continued. "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."

Hillary Clinton is going through the Stallone pantheon lately. First she was Rambo in Bosnia, now she’s Rocky in Philadelphia. She’s like Rocky, begging the Mick to cut him. Next, presumably, she’ll be Judge Dredd, bringing her wrath down upon the Democratic Party if it fails to nominate her president.

Hillary’s shot at the nomination is toast, no matter how many raw eggs she chugs. The simple math opposes her. Barack Obama has too many delegates, too many votes. He’s gaining in Pennsylvania, her last electoral fortress. He’s locking up the endorsements of party leaders. He’s got her on the ropes, and even if she won’t stay down for the count, she’ll lose by split decision.

And so the question must be asked: Why is Hillary staying in the race?

She’s staying in because she’s not running for 2008 anymore — she’s running for 2012. Hillary Clinton, like Tommy Morrison in "Rocky V," is out only for herself. By staying in the race, she forces Obama to spend cash. By attacking Obama, she undercuts his credibility in the general election. By sinking him in 2008, she opens a path to the nomination for herself in 2012.

In 2012, Clinton will be 64. She’ll be at the tail end of two terms in the United States Senate. She’ll be seen by her followers as the rightful heir to the Democratic throne — the woman who should have won in 2008, cheated out of her shot at the White House by fate and a sexist populace. Ironically, by losing to Obama, her viability as a general election candidate will increase — if Obama gets mashed by McCain (a highly probable outcome), Democrats will assume that Hillary would have done better and turn to her. By 2012, Al Gore will be old news again, and Obama will be a Mondale-esque figure. President McCain will be a whopping 76 years old, with no clear successor. The field will be clear.

So for the next few months, expect Hillary to stay in. And she won’t be playing Rocky — she’ll be playing Salvatore Tessio in "The Godfather," the purportedly loyal soldier willing to sell out Michael Corleone in order to take over the Corleone family. The Clintons have lost control of their party: Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and the Kennedys have cast them out. The only way for Hillary to regain control is to sink the party, then ride in on her white steed to save it.

Hillary will support Obama, of course. She’ll make a purportedly enthusiastic endorsement, carefully noting his nomination has ushered in a new era for American politics, where race and sex are no longer barriers to success. She’ll campaign with him, doing her Democratic duty while simultaneously praising John McCain as a man she has worked with in the past and for whom she has great respect.

Meanwhile, she’ll train. Cue the "Eye of the Tiger" montage. She’ll cultivate a more motherly personality while leading the charge against McCain’s policies. She’ll learn to dress more appropriately. She’ll figure out how to use Bill to her advantage.

And she’ll wait. When Hillary says she’s like Rocky, she’s not talking about "Rocky" — she’s talking about "Rocky II." Next time, she hopes, she’ll take the title. In the meantime, it can’t hurt to kneecap Apollo Creed.