Dr. Word: Ninja chess master playing rope-a-dope?

by David Safier

I'm enjoying the terms being tossed around by pundits who believe that, far from being caught unawares, Obama is playing crafty political games with the Republicans during the stimulus debate, luring them into difficult positions as they tire themselves out with their overblown rhetoric. Putting the images together, Obama is a ninja chess master playing rope-a-dope.

First I heard him described as a chess master, I think by columnist Bob Herbert, who said that both amateurs and professionals looking at the board are criticizing Obama's individual moves, but only he sees the long term strategy which will lead to check mate. I don't know where the ninja metaphor came from, but its image of a superior martial artist is pretty obvious. And even casual boxing fans know the story of Ali hanging on the ropes when he fought Foreman, tiring the huge, strong man out while Ali let the loose ropes absorb the punishment. Once Foreman was sufficiently exhausted, Ali knocked him out with a picture perfect flurry of blows to the head.

Of course, all these metaphors could be wishful thinking. Maybe Obama and his team were caught unawares by the Republicans' united resistance. But in the movies, the hero always looks like he's being pummeled, then he springs back.

I'm just taking a little time out from the nervewracking economic spectacle to enjoy the word play. I hope to hell Obama knows what he's doing.

Go, Rope-a-doping Ninja Chess Master! (If we add "Teenage" to that list, I think we've got us a hit TV show.)

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