Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Minnesotans Chortle and Chafe over Jesse He's Had to 'Clarify' Many of His Statements and He's Upset a State

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Minnesotans Chortle and Chafe over Jesse He's Had to 'Clarify' Many of His Statements and He's Upset a State

Article excerpt

A few hours after the massacre at Littleton, Colo., the ex- wrestler and swashbuckling film warrior, Jesse Ventura, made one of his first forays into an American social crisis in his new incarnation as governor of Minnesota. He offered a blueprint for avoiding mass murder at future Littletons.

Mr. Ventura's solution amounted to a pitch for more guns on the street. The Littleton shootings, the governor of Minnesota said then, strengthened the argument that more people in America should be carrying concealed guns to protect themselves.

Most voters sighed in resignation. Jesse again. He later "clarified" his views on guns and schools, but he nonetheless left some Minnesotans railing at his sometimes comical, sometimes infuriating urges to take serious public issues and swab them with the paint of whimsy. The governor's jarring public blunders have practically created a new ex-officio agency in the Ventura regime at the State Capitol - a ministry to grind out apologies for Jesse's bursts of spontaneous wisdom. Yet voters are hardly ready to demand impeachment for the man they promoted to Jesse The Mind instead of Jesse The Body, his stage handle as a wrestler. His popularity rating, an improbable 72 percent just six weeks ago, was down to 62 percent, no precipitous drop. A 62 percent approval rating is still hot stuff for any politician. Saints and Nobel Prize winners have have received less. In Minnesota, there still is an overlay of public tolerance of gubernatorial gaffes, a willingness to make excuses for The Mind on grounds that he never claimed to be a diplomat, which gives him a freshness and an against- the-grain charm. Public forgiveness may be wearing thin. Ventura's statement in the wake of Littleton was followed by his predictable statement of regret. He didn't mean people ought to be toting guns on a school campus, he said, and he regretted mixing the Littleton shootings with his arguments in favor of conceal-and-carry gun laws. Nonetheless, the letters column of Minnesota newspapers and the talk shows were pumped with incensed commentaries. Ventura's office of damage control already had been laboring at forced draft. On his triumphant tour of the East and the national TV shows after his election, Jesse characterized the street system of St. Paul, the capital city of Minnesota, as something that might have been designed by a drunken Irishman. St. Paul is populated by tens of thousands of Irishmen. A lot of them sighed and bore no grudge. Some felt savaged by this clumsy attempt at racial humor. Jesse issued an apology when he felt the heat. But he chided the critics for lacking a sense of humor. Still, a 62 percent rating means that Ventura commands widespread fondness (and forgiveness) among Minnesota folk. To most, he is a big and likeable stage character with a swagger, a shaved head, and a show-biz charisma despite his foggy vocal cords. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.