I’m asking: Is there anything more worthless than those real-time reaction lines to candidates’ speeches?

If you watched last night’s primaries on CNN last night you saw something that I thought surely had been relegated to the “nice try” bin four or eight years ago.

It’s those real-time reaction lines, where men and women in the next primary state—South Carolina in this case—twist some Fisher-Price knobs one way to indicate the speech they’re listening to is making them happy, and another way to say it’s making them mad.

First, there’s the mind-splitting imbecility of the exercise. To acknowledge the difference between men and women and monkeys, shouldn’t people have a moment to think about how they feel about the candidate’s words? Or is it just, free market GOOD, entitlements BAD?

But even setting aside that objection as theoretical … For the life of you, you can’t see how the lines—different for men and women—correspond at all with the actual points the person is making. They go up while the crowd is cheering, down when the candidate is talking. They flatline when the candidate makes a ringing point, and they spike when he calls his campaign volunteers the best in the history of New Hampshire.

Wolf Blitzer—or “Blitz,” as Herman Cain and I call him—does a lot of silly things with a straight face. (Maybe that’s why the beard comes in handy.)

But as far as I’m concerned, this is the silliest. —DM

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