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November 19, 2007
The Expectation Game (Bob Franken)
@ 11:34 am

This is getting really complicated. All along we’ve been told that Rudy Giuliani was forfeiting the Iowa race, meaning he wasn’t really competing to win the state’s caucus vote. What that meant, of course, was that if he got any chunk of support at all, he’d win the all-important Expectations Game against Mitt Romney and even Mike Huckabee.

But now we find out that Giuliani is buying some ads in the state, and is going to put some effort into the race there. So now what? What does this do to his claim to be the underdog? If he does well, can he still claim it was better than expected. Can he raise expectations and still credibly win the Expectations Game? What should the expectations be?

For that matter, where does Huckabee fit in? Same question: Now that he has escaped from obscurity, does he continue to get a free ride? Will Fred Thompson’s Easy Ride carry him anywhere? I am sooooo confused.


While we’re at it, will someone make sure I understand who is up and who’s down among Democrats? The way I see it, Hillary Clinton had stumbled badly after the debate before last when she slip-slid all over the place trying not to answer the question about undocumented immigrants getting driver’s licenses. Barack Obama was really on her case about her attempting to be all things to all people.

Then we get to the next debate. Same issue, different day. But this time it was Obama’s turn. He had the, uh, audacity to hope that he could get away with being evasive.

So now what? Where does that leave us? Is this where John Edwards comes to the Democrats’ rescue? So far he looks more like he’s more interested in reinventing himself as the champion of the poor and downtrodden and competing for the populist vote with Dennis Kucinich.

Joe Biden — “Silent Joe” as we call him now that he’s discovered the power of the unspoken word? Bill Richardson? Chris Dodd?

I am about to be drummed out of the Pundit Corps for what I’m going to say: I don’t have the slightest idea how all this is going to shake out. Neither do any of the rest of us. We don’t even know who all the candidates will be. Is Mike Bloomberg going to buy his way in? Is the Lou Dobbs thing just one hell of a publicity stunt? All I can say with some degree of certainty is that we’re getting it all wrong. We always do. How’s that for playing the Expectation Game?


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