Ventura#039;s last day not surprising

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 6, 2003

Gov. Jesse Ventura's last day in office was fitting. At his last press conference, he did two things he did best during his tenure: appoint judges and bash the media.

He warned reporters, or as he calls them, "jackals," they would soon fear him. And finishing his long list of judges appointed, he named his 71st and 72nd, to two district court openings.

One area where the controversial Ventura had almost universal praise was his unbiased and apolitical selection of judges. For that, he can be applauded. His success in that area will leave his mark on the state for years.

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But who could forget his shouting match with students not long after he was elected -- ironically, largely on the strength of votes by college students? His issuance of "official jackal" badges to reporters, then his admonition that they lacked a sense of humor when they refused to wear them? His strange remarks about "hunting man" when he was upset about criticism from an outdoors writer?

Instead of learning to deal with the media, he spent most of his time shooting the messenger. Instead of changing his words or his behavior to avoid incidents, he kept saying and doing questionable things, then acting surprised when reporters grabbed onto them.

Ventura's term raised some interesting ideas, and he got a few good things done. And his election was an empowering event for those who want to see the two-party system shaken up every now and then. But recent polls showing most Minnesotans rate him average, at best, may be a reflection of his inability, or lack of willingness, to learn media relations. He never figured out how to get out his message effectively; instead he made his dealings with the media personal and ensured that his antics outside the governor's office got more attention than what he did on the job.