Wednesday, April 23, 2008

so is it the difference between Chess and Poker?

Two recent blog posts--one by Ezra and one by Turkana make me wonder if there isn't some deep difference in the way people understand the nature of the electoral contest between Clinton and Obama that is related to some hidden assumptions about exactly which kind of contest it is? Turkana is still talking about this race as though its something that Clinton can "win" in any realistic sense. And because the contest is, in Turkana's mind, legitimately open that makes Clinton staying in legitimate and calls for Clinton to give up illegitimate. I think Turkana thinks this is either a horse race, with a straight shot to the finish line or poker, in which bluffing your way to getting the other guy to fold is a legitimate and time honored strategy. But other blog commentators think of it more like chess. After a certain point a master chess player knows all the moves ahead, given the configuration of the board, and checkmate is inevitable. The lesser player (me) often doesn't grasp that and continues to move pieces, but to no real avail. I think the basic murkiness of the math, the ambiguity surrounding the "choice" or lack of it of the superdelgates, and a basic misunderstanding of the nature of this game is what is propelling the continued fantasy that Clinton's wins are meaningful wins, in any real sense. I'm not a games person, though, what do you guys think?