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The chess game of politics - Greg Gelpi

Back in high school, we had a stunningly brilliant defensive coordinator for the football team.

Scratching his name into school history for being a font of wisdom, he often dazzled the school community with his analysis of football and quick intellect.

The story goes that he rushed into the defensive huddle eyes wide with a sudden revelation bursting forth from his mouth.

"They're going to run, or they're going to pass," he declared like the elder atop the mountain.

The absolute brilliance of his strategizing and analysis can only be likened to the presidential election.

Just a point of clarification? That's the other big competition besides American Idol.

As veteran chess players plot their course three, four, five moves down the road, so do the teams of political gurus.

And as with Karpov and others, the campaigns are scheming their moves and countermoves.

A few chess games of my own under my belt, I know that with many games there hits a point in which pieces start hitting the deck in rapid secession.

The same I foresee is true for the George W. Bush and John Kerry campaigns.

Unlike a chess game, presidential hopefuls leak their roadmaps to victory in systematic manners.

And unlike chess, the political players aren't exactly the brightest guys around.

Already the Democrats are announcing their plans in hopes of backing Bush into a corner.

After months of hammering the president on the economy, the Democrats circled the wagons when the Dow hit 10,000 and the job market grew.

Take gas prices for example. If they rise, it's because of Bush's irresponsible actions in destabilizing the Middle East. If they go down, it's because of Bush's back door deals with Middle East allies.

Another example is the war on terror. If bin Laden continues to hunker down in some cave, Bush is criticized for his inability to capture the 9/11 mastermind. If he does catch him, then he will be criticized for pulling a political stunt and questioned on the timing.

Conspiracy theories abound and soon there will be Elvis sightings and more questions about America landing on the moon.

Plotting for every eventuality, political opportunists can play and spin everything for their candidate's benefit.

I'm awaiting the conspiracy theory that links one candidate with the creation of cancer.

Bizarre Hollywood style conspiracies become so common place and so often employed that frighteningly they become part of the country's collective conscience.

And every wacky hair-brained idea gives credibility to the one before it by making the previous one not seem so strange.

Bush was lambasted for his inability to catch Saddam Hussein, but when he did he continued to be slammed.

Even those at the gym I belong to questioned the timing of Hussein's apprehension, calling it a ploy to distract the world's attention from questions raised about Haliburton's oil contracts.

Through the murkiness of the political mess, one thing is certain. As with any game of chess, one king will be taken out.

That is, of course, unless "Chad," the hang voter, returns to Florida.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.