Not just another bum from the neighborhood
I've never been one to get too wrapped up in inspirational movies, but the first Rocky would be an exception. There's so much to love about its heart, humor and passion, that you would be hard-pressed to find a better role model than Rocky Balboa, even though he is a fictional one.
I’ve had more than my share of girlfriends over the years. If I was asked if there was anything they had in common with each other, other than their hatred of me (present girlfriend excluded), it’s that they all hated the movie Rocky. Surely it’s a strange thing to remember, but Rocky happens to be one of my favorite movies and over the years I’ve found it interesting that it’s rare to find a female who likes this movie.
I believe the misconception is that Rocky is a movie about boxing, which it is not. It’s about a man getting an opportunity to succeed, with virtually no chance of doing so, but taking it anyway. He sets his own goal for success and achieving that goal would be good enough for him.
In the defining moment of the movie, Rocky is seen lying in bed with his girlfriend, Adrian. The Philadelphia southpaw shows a perceived moment of weakness, admitting to Adrian that he knows he can’t win his big fight against the heavyweight champ, Apollo Creed.
He then expresses the heart of this beloved movie by saying, “I was nobody. But that don't matter either, you know? 'Cause I was thinkin', it really don't matter if I lose this fight. It really don't matter if this guy opens my head, either. 'Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody's ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I'm still standin', I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood.”
Of course Rocky loses the fight, but he does go the distance in this film, which won an Oscar for Best Picture. The enduring message to me has always been about that little, but achievable goal—not being another bum from the neighborhood. That small quote has been with me for as long as I can remember and I, too, have never wanted to be just another bum.
This brings me to the present day antics of the freshly-shamed congressman, Anthony Weiner. Congressman Weiner impressed me from the first time I heard him speak. He was an up-and-comer, but more than anything, he was one of us.
He came out of Brooklyn by way of an attorney father and a math teacher mother. Almost as soon as he took office, over ten years ago, his brother was killed in a tragic hit-and-run accident, and he became a sympathetic character.
He has been known as a task master, not in the realm of a Bridezilla-style micro-manager, but as a slave to fact checking and accuracy. He spoke well, and it seemed that the only fault one could find with him was that his last name wasn’t exactly regal, but he took it in stride making him even more approachable.
Regrettably, once again, I have set myself up for disappointment. Ignoring the fact that he was a good Democrat, he seemed to be a good politician. I can criticize the Republican hierarchy all I want about its dalliances, but in the long run, the Democrats are exactly the same if not worse.
Worse because I want to believe them so badly. From Bill Clinton to John Edwards to Anthony Weiner, it’s not the unknown Democratic politicians who run afoul of the morals of society, but the best and brightest.
I am angry and disappointed for several reasons, but mostly because I am somewhat of an idealist when it comes to politicians I choose to get behind. I hold them to a higher standard because they promise me that they will fulfill that standard.
I understand people make mistakes. But there are absentminded mistakes, such as speeding or forgetting to take the dog out, and there are preventable, conscious mistakes, such as infidelity or lecherous behavior. These feel like a deliberate and selfish violation of the public trust, and I’m sick of it. Mistakes are one thing. Stupid, selfish and weak mistakes are another.
Congressman Anthony Weiner was never going to be the first Jewish president. It was hard enough to get John F. Kennedy, still the only Catholic president, elected, and he was a war hero. Additionally, with a name like Weiner, the presidency just didn’t seem to be in the cards.
But none of that mattered, because he did have the opportunity to be a great politician who made a difference out of care and conviction. This was an easily attainable goal, achievable by just being what made him so likeable in the first place: a no-nonsense, passionate man who demanded results and worked hard to achieve success.
As former NBA great-turned-commentator Mark Jackson would say, “You’re better than that, Anthony”. Sadly as it turns out, he’s not.
Now he’s just another bum from the neighborhood.