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Friday, October 03, 2008


If you haven't seen Cinderella Man, see it. As in, right now.

All right--quick summary:

CM is the improbable comeback story of boxer James J. Braddock, the heavyweight champion right before Joe Louis. Braddock was a contender in the late 20s until he broke his left hand. His savings wiped out by the Great Depression, he ended up moving into a basement apartment with his wife and three kids. He was lucky enough to get work on the docks, which forced him to use his left hand, progressively strengthening it. He gets a chump match at the last minute at Madison Square Garden and scores a titanic upset of the No. 2 heavyweight, his now hammer-like left hand helping to knock out his stunned opponent before an even more stunned audience.

I think the pivotal scene in Cinderella Man is not the heavyweight match with Max Baer (who was done an injustice by the film, not so BTW), as impressive a bit of sports cinema as it is. No, the crucial scene is Braddock's fight with the No. 1 contender, Art Lasky, the last step before facing Baer. Frankly, Lasky mauls Braddock, breaking a rib and battering him from one end of the ring to the other. Finally, Lasky throws his best shot, a titanic right hook, smashing Braddock to the canvas and knocking his mouth guard out. The count begins, and Braddock is seeing double.

Then he starts flashing back to his family in poverty, being reduced to nothing, and he pulls himself to his feet. Not even wobbling, he smiles at Lasky and walks over to pick up his mouth guard, still smiling. A smile that says, louder than any speech, "Kid, you'd better pray to God that wasn't the best you got."

Alas for Lasky, it was, and the scene shows him watching Braddock in disbelief as the latter takes up residence in his head, shortly before turning the tables and beating the snot out of him.

That's what happened last night. No, not to Biden, but rather to all of Gov. Palin's detractors. Sure, she's had an awful stretch--no one watching the Couric interview could do anything but wince.

But last night she got back off the canvas with a smile after having taken the worst pummeling in modern political history, and sent her detractors to the mat for a ten count. Regardless of what happens this year (and the odds aren't great and haven't been), she's here to stay.

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