Water Man Spouts

Saturday, February 04, 2006

"Your Move"

"...Take a straight and stronger course
to the corner of your life
Make the white queen run so fast
she hasn't got time to make you wise
'Cause it's time it's time in time
with your time and its news is captured
For the queen to use
Move me on to any black square
Use me any time you want,
Just remember that the gold
'Sfor us to capture all we want,
anywhere, yea, yea, yea.
Don't surround yourself with yourself
Move on back two squares
Send an instant comment to me,
Initial it with loving care
Don't surround yourself
'Cause it's time, it's time in time
with your time
and its news is captured
For the queen to use ....."
-- I've Seen All Good People:Your Move, by Yes

The news about the Plame scandal investigation, including yesterday's scheduling of the Libby trial for January, 2007, has had a number of progressive democrats questioning if this is a case of justice delayed equalling justice denied. On a thread on the Democratic Underground discussion forum, I compared the contest between Patrick Fitzgerald and the Bush administration to a game of chess. Chess is not a game that appeals to people who want great excitement and instant results, nor is it a game won by those who focus on one or two pieces to the exclusion of the others.

The comparison to chess might appeal to some in the administration, because of the images of feudal kingdoms in medieval Europe. Many of the "modern" chess pieces have European names. It's interesting to note that the game actually is believed to have originated in India in about 500 ad, and to have spread to Europe around 1300 ad through Byzantium by way of the Moors. But that is probably of keen interest to a limited audience, and I risk losing readers if I try to connect the Scooter Libby trial with Columbus.

Thus, I would say that in the Plame scandal, we can identify the Bush administration fairly easily with specific chess pieces. Bush is the king; Cheney is the queen; Rove is the bishop; Libby is the knight; Wolfiwitz a rook; and other neocons are the pawns. In a game of chess, of course, there are two bishops, knights, and rooks, and each are identified as either the king's or queen's, depending on their position when the game begins. This is important in "chess notation," which is simply the manner that chess players keep track of the game.

As most people know, each chess piece has a "value." The queen is more valuable to the king than the others. The bishops and knights are of similar, though not exact, value in the game. Rooks can play an important role, both offensively and defensively, if used correctly. The more skilled the player, the better use the pawns play in the game.

Now, a good chess game can be viewed as having three parts: the opening, the middle game, and the end game. In the opening, each player tries to make strong moves to establish the most powerful position possible on the board. The four center squares are of particular importance; if the corporate media were to focus on a political chess match, those four squares get 99% of their reporter's attention.

Keep in mind that Patrick Fitzgerald was not involved in the opening of this game. Not only was John Ashcroft, the Attorney General who played a dual role as one of king George's rooks, in charge of the opening moves on what would become Fitzgerald's side, but other unseen forces were at play. In a December 5, 2003 edition of the Financial Times, an unidentified senior White House official is quoted as saying, "We have rolled the earthmovers in over this one." So we see that the administration set up the board before Fitzgerald was able to begin the "middle game."

In the "middle game," every single move has a definite objective. The player focuses on three basic things: to build position; to defend or attack; or to threaten and/or capture the opponent's players.

Libby is an interesting chess piece. He is often thought of as VP Cheney's knight. But his position in the administration was far more powerful than most people appreciate. He was the first person in history to hold three "power positions" at one time: he was the chief of staff for VP Cheney; national security advisor to VP Cheney; and assistant to President Bush. He is unique in the role he has played, and it is fair to say that Mr. Fitzgerald has, at very least, isolated Libby, and is about to take him off the board.

At the same time, we need to keep track of Mr. Fitzgerald's "middle game" moves to threaten bishop Rove, and to isolate and capture other rooks and pawns. And that is where we are, folks.

The "end game" in this case is simply to take the opponent's queen, and put the king in checkmate. A number of people are concerned that the opposing player will get frustrated at the way the game is going, and knock the board right off the table. It's a funny game, chess, and it can be full of surprises. But right now, Fitzgerald is controlling the game, and those who are familiar with political chess in general, and Mr. Fitzgerald in particular, know that he is on the move.


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