Monday, February 18, 2013

The Nimzo-Indian Defence

By Charles Cullen

Chess nerds will recognize the “Nimzo-Indian Defence” as an effective, if rudimentary, opening when playing as black. For those not fortunate enough to be chess nerds, here's a brief description of the opening by Tony Kosten. Kosten writes “When Nimzowitsch introduced his defence in the 1920's, his idea was that Black would fight for control of the centre […] with pieces other than pawns. His concept, the Nimzo-Indian Defence rapidly became one of Black's most popular defences and established a reputation for offering a wide range of strategically rich possibilities.”

After participating in a nationwide Organizing for Action call with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Chief Economist and Cabinet member Austan Goolsbee, I am more certain than ever that there were sophisticated political undertones to President Obama's State of the Union address; suggesting that he is playing political chess, while the Republicans wait for him at the checkers board. Particularly relevant seems his decision to single out Georgia and Oklahoma as beacons of hope when it comes to effective, productive, early education.

A big part of the Nimzo-Indian defence is forcing your will upon your opponent by offering choices that seem impossible to pass up. And this is essentially what Obama is doing by focusing on red states and forcing Republican leaders to either stand against the education reforms they themselves had a part in creating (and doing so simply because the President says he likes them) or going along with the President and his desire to see every child enrolled in high quality early education.

The focus of this Organizing for Action call was supposed to be jobs, but time and time again both Goolsbee and Emmanuel returned to the issue of early and available education, making it a point to single out red states for praise. Things like this don't happen by accident, and my ears perked up when Mayor Emmanuel pivoted a jobs question into a discussion of the interesting early education programs in (you guessed it) Georgia, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Emmanuel argued for the necessity of a “race to the top,” reiterated the President's call for “full-day pre-K,” and expanded on the President's plan by suggesting the idea of teaching “parent's how to be parents” as a part of the administration's overall education initiative.

Emmanuel accused the Republican Congress of governing “from the outside in.” Suggesting that they are not only out of touch, but would do well to govern from the inside ... by accepting the President's plans for early education. Goolsbee echoed many of Emmanuel's sentiments regarding education while also getting a dig in at the Republicans for our current, ridiculous sequester boondoggle. He also promised that “courageous votes” would be taken -- over, of course, Republican objection--on “gun control,” and “immigration.”

Anyone who's ever lost a game of Chess knows how the Republicans must be feeling in private. For all their posturing and ridiculous filibustering, they don't really know what they're doing. Heads in hands they find themselves in the shocked stasis of defeat — a splintered, weak, directionless party wondering helplessly where it all went wrong.

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