The game of politics is like an incredibly complex and dynamic game of chess. At once, the single core goal is to hone an image and a message that you believe will connect with a majority, or at least a plurality of voters, while at the same time employing a plethora of tactics in making your opponent seem less desirable than you.

The chess pieces moved across the board range from netroots and grassroots, to policy advisors, communicationi directors and campaign managers. While you as a candidate are busy approving ad spots and delivering speeches and participating in debates, all of which are spent reinforcing this winning image you have crafted, you and your chessmen are consistently trying to break down your opponent.

Commonly this is by disrupting their image, or by painting their image as being not quite as good as yours, or by showing them that their resolve is such that they won’t even stick to their own image, so how much integrity can they have in serving you in public office.

The latest example of how this game is played can be directly shown in some of it’s most intricate detail in the trade offs back and forth between Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama.

Hillary, the frontrunner, is sitting strong in the lead and for good reason. She has consistantly been doing what I think no political analyst has believed possible, and that is change minds. People who would have never thought they would even consider voting for Mrs. Clinton are now slowly coming around.

Still, while Senator Obama is far behind her in the polls, Hillary is not one to ignore a come from behind win, as that is exactly what her husband did to win the White House back in 92. Furthermore, despite the disparities between the two candidate’s machines, with the advantage going obviously to Mrs. Clinton, Senator Obama has had a surprising groundswell of support, and has out fundraised her by an eye-opening margin.

He’s still a significant obstacle on her road to the White House.

So while Hillary had been exceedingly careful to not get in the trenches with her competition, the Senator of Illinois would have to be dealt with and during a debate a few weeks ago, she saw her opening.

The question about whether or not to meet with foreign dictators “without precondition” began what would be a bitterly fought battle between the two front runners hoping for the Democratic Party’s nomination, jumping from philosophies on foreign policy to how far we should chase al Qaeda to the use of nuclear weapons.

In the game of chess, throughout this entire episode, the point for Hillary’s campaign was to display Hillary Clinton as tough and experienced and knowledgeable enough to take the nation’s helm and keep us safe and use our military forces and assets wisely. At the same time, it was her goal to turn Barack Obama’s image on its head.

Barack’s image, equally attempting to be tough, is one of a fresh influence in government, a Washington outsider willing to depart from conventional wisdom, a conventional wisdom that has, for the most part, not worked as well as it could have. It is in this context that he makes bold declarations and brings new ideas that has the older, more experienced, candidates off in the corner whispering, “what the hell is this guy talking about?”

In her attempts to turn the image of fresh and new to irresponsible and naive, Hillary Clinton remarked of Senator Obama’s statements regarding taking nuclear weapons off the table, “I don’t believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons.”

In her haste to keep pressing on Obama in an attempt to paint him as too naive, she failed to keep track of her own stances:

But that’s exactly what she did in an interview with Bloomberg Television in April 2006. The New York senator, a member of the Armed Services committee, was asked about reports that the Bush administration was considering military intervention — possibly even a nuclear strike — to prevent Iran from escalating its nuclear program.

“I have said publicly no option should be off the table, but I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table,” Clinton said. “This administration has been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way we haven’t seen since the dawn of a nuclear age. I think that’s a terrible mistake.”

In other words, what the highly disciplined Mrs. Clinton has let slip in this particular instance is that she is now playing follow the leader, compromising her own stances in order to win immediate match ups with Obama in the present. Thus, she is allowing him to define the playing field.

Indeed, that has been much of the case over the past few weeks, with Obama taking the initiative of driving the headlines, and Hillary working to counteract the news. It’s a bold move on Barack’s part, especially considering that his initiatives do vary significantly from conventional wisdom, but if Hillary continues to dance to his tune, it could bode incredibly well for Obama.

In other words, if this truly was a game of chess, this little revelation would definitely qualify as an early “check” for Obama.

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