Ventura has not been a leader

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 15, 2002

While all states have since early days called July 4 Independence Day and while 49 states did so this year, in Minnesota it was "Indivisible Day." At least it was by this governor's proclamation. Coming from the Office of the Governor, the proclamation deserves respect. The measure of respect possible is greatly reduced by the respect earned by the governor-of-the-moment, one Jesse Ventura. I have just given it.

Jesse Ventura is skilled at entertainment, and I wish him well as he returns to full-time entertaining and relieves Minnesota of embarrassment and liability for him.

During lunch a couple of weeks ago in Delphi, Greece, I scanned the current issue of the "International Herald-Tribune," published jointly in foreign countries by "The New York Times" and the "Washington Post." Not prominent but certainly noticeable was the news article that reported Ventura had announced he would not seek another term as governor. Appearing in this international newspaper, the editors seemed to think those in other countries would find some interest in it.

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We did. I called the news over to a member of our touring group who is also from Minnesota, whom I knew would be interested.

Cheers came from all over the dinning room. These non-Minnesotans are not only from the Midwest (Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin), but the East (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio), the South (North Carolina and Texas), and the West (Arizona, Colorado, Montana, California, and Washington). Why should people from so many distant states rejoice that Jesse Ventura will no longer be governor of our state?

The answer came from at least the one who asked me, "How can you people put up with a governor like that?" Possibly, this is the wisest and most valid thing to come out of the Delphi oracle.

While he has been in office, I have been in several states where I was asked my home state. Sometimes they laughed and just said "Jesse!" Other times they asked seriously, "Just what possessed voters in Minnesota to elect a man like that?" I don't know whether Minnesota is more a laughing-stock or a puzzle to people in other states and around the world.

The crazy thing is that there is more substance and good sense in Jesse Ventura than people around the world have been able to notice. Even most people within the state seem not to have recognized them. There are times when he has given no-nonsense rejections to nonsense matters. Yet, he judges everything subjectively, e.g., how it affects him individually. For each bit of nonsense he has put down, he has come up with several of his own.

He has refreshingly challenged people to self-responsibility, and some of the people he challenged are indeed irresponsible. Not all. Not a few of our fellow citizens lack his wealthy resources with which to be self-responsible. Some truly need help from the rest. But our governor seems to have a heart as calloused as his skull is thick and his mouth is wide.

He boasts he speaks his mind, and then turns around and says he was only joking. He complains the legislature doesn't cooperate with him and then tries to strong-arm it. He becomes angry with the mildest media criticism but makes personal attacks on citizens and insults religion and other things we hold precious.

The only thing reliable about Jesse Ventura is his unreliability; the only thing consistent is inconsistency. The only thing we can know is that he said it, with no idea whether he means it. He despises nonsense from others but delights in his own.

Jesse Ventura was something of a success in a peculiar segment of the entertainment industry. He thought he could run the state by the same skill, but he has done little other than entertain. If he goes back to full-time entertaining, he will at least be doing what he is paid to do.