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Posted at 07:49 PM ET, 08/13/2011

Ames Straw Poll results — the real winner is noise

I am a fan of the Ames Straw Poll.

The Ames Straw Poll, says Mike Huckabee, is the “most important meaningless event in American politics.” Never have so few generated so much hoopla from so many, except possibly the more than 800 voters who wrote in Rick Perry’s name today.

Maybe “voter” isn’t the right word. “$30 payer and dinner eater and tent stander-in” might be a bit more accurate.

I am a fan of noisy and meaningless things, so I sat by my laptop eagerly waiting for the poll results and rewatching the Perry presidential campaign announcement video.

If you watch it backwards, it’s the 2008 election!

If you watch it forwards, it’s a man with a blue-collar job who gets a white-collar job by giving everyone around him blue-collar jobs. It’s also got some divine lightning in it. It’s very inspiring, in the sense that it actively made me nostalgic for the Bush era, a feat that I thought was impossible.

But, never mind. I was, apparently, not supposed to be watching this. I was supposed to be watching the straw poll, where everyone was palavering to beat the band. Based on the speeches, I think elections were devised by our founders because they realized we did not hear enough inane platitudes about the “fruit of our labor” in the course of our daily lives and would need an injection every four years to counterbalance this. “Yes,” the crowds moaned, in wild abandon. “Please, say our name again. IOWA! There it is! That’s what I call speechmaking! I don’t know what you want to do to the country, but tell me again how much you learned by meeting me! Say you love me! Blow us a kiss! Yes! I’m going to pour all my votes into your ballot box!”

That’s basically how it went.

Watching the speeches and then hearing that Bachmann had prevailed (narrowly beating Ron Paul with 4823 to his 4671 votes) made me think that it really is possible to fool all the people all the time if you just say ”Iowa” enough times.

Or maybe no one heard the speech because they were too busy lining up to vote. For our sake, I hope so.

I don’t know how she stands on wind-power, although I’m sure I could find out, but her speech could have filled several Hindenburg-scale blimps.

So much for Pawlenty. He’s going to be an also-also ran.

Mike Murphy said that “to win Ames, you have to lose the general election.” He calls this “an impossible choice” for Pawlenty — I assume with tongue in cheek, since Pawlenty’s options right now seem limited to losing Ames and not making it to the general.

With so many Big Names definitely not in attendance, winning the Ames Straw Poll is akin to being crowned King of the Ames Prom — nice, but not a title that amounts to much in the real world.

So, hurray: The current designated king is… Bachmann! Also, Rick Perry, by write-in, for getting more votes than Romney and that other guy who was actually on the ballot and might have been speaker of the House at some point.

All 1,400 or so of the people whose homes Rick Santorum visited repeatedly late at night seem to have taken pity on him and given him their votes in the hope he might go away.

So it’s Bachmann versus Perry, say some, who are probably not Ron Paul supporters.

The news everyone will fret about is the 800+ votes for Perry by write-in and Bachmann’s narrow victory, but none of it surprises me. Ron Paul will never quite make it into the prom court, because no one else passionately cares about the gold standard. They say it’s better to be nine people’s favorite thing than 100 people's ninth favorite thing. Ron Paul manages to be both, which is why he will never make it in the general election.

I know that I should find this riveting. And yet all I can think of is that we, as a country, used to have something better to do, like contract small pox. It would probably be about as pleasant.

On the one hand, I am delighted that we are not actually placing The Hope And Future of America in the hands of people who want to buy a $30 dinner and walk into a tent. But it seems like an awful lot of noise.

By  |  07:49 PM ET, 08/13/2011

 
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