If You Throw an Inane and Meaningless Political Event, They Will Come

I've written a lot about presidential politics, and I once drove through Iowa. (Blew a timing belt outside West Branch, whose motto these days is "A heritage for success," but whose motto back then was "Sorry, we don't take credit cards.") But I haven't had the misfortune of having to cover the Iowa caucus live in person, which is why I have some sympathy for those reporters currently attempting to write something insightful about the abomination that is the Ames Straw Poll, the event with the lowest meaningfulness-to-coverage ratio in the entire presidential campaign. As Erika Fry at the Columbia Journalism Review tells us in a piece providing some of the horrifying history of the event, around 700 reporters have been credentialed for this weekend's democracypalooza, in which a few thousand people who may or may not be Iowa voters will be serenaded by musicians, plied with free food, and do something that looks kind of like voting, which they won't actually be doing for many months to come.

And when it's over, the reporters will look at the results, such as they are, and use them to put a few of the candidates on the "dead to us" list. As a matter of fact, they're already declaring that if certain candidates don't do well, their bids will be all but over (see here, for example). That the victims of this winnowing might include the uniquely repellent Rick Santorum should make us feel no better about it.

If nothing else, we can laugh. Here's the ad Stephen Colbert's superPAC will be airing in Iowa: