The Ames poll victory was great for Michele Bachmann’s eventual career as a right-wing figurehead who makes money through direct mail fundraising toward an ambiguous promise of future candidacies that never materialize, a la Newt Gingrich, but I’m unclear why any of the rest of us should give a hoot about it. The relevance of the straw poll is easy to assess by remembering that Bachmann barely squeaked past Ron Paul, whose entire career is based on being the guy you support because you enjoy feeling too pure for dirty things like victories. At the end of the day, too-pure-to-win isn’t going to get anyone the Republican nomination. It’s fun to preen about how you’re a bigger right-wing nut than your neighbors in a straw poll, but when the rubber hits the road, the majority of Republican primary voters are going to want Obama out of office too much to run someone who can’t win a national election against him.
I’m as fond of creating an artificial news hook as anyone else, particularly when it comes to election coverage. The summer is winding down, and the election season is winding up, and we all need some kind of official opening ceremony so we can get into election coverage mode. A little pomp and circumstance can get that done, for sure. The problem isn’t that the Ames poll or the Republican debate happened, and that everyone can get their electoral analysis on. The problem is that anyone would think it actually means anything at all. Sports journalists don’t breathlessly cover how the mayor throwing the opening pitch at a game will impact the eventual outcome of the game, and political journalists would do well to emulate that level of dignity.
With that in mind, I’m going to congratulate Michele Bachmann on her meaningless victory, wish her well in her eventual endeavors of mass mailing alarmist letters about Sharia law and the homosexuals taking over to people who will send her checks in the vain hopes she’ll stop it all, and start looking forward to the actual primary battle between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. May the man with the tallest hair win.