02-14-2004, 03:52 PM #1
Jesse Ventura's latest antics . . .
Wrestling With Politics
Ever wonder what happened to Jesse Ventura? He’s teaching Harvard students about the similarities between third parties and professional fighting
By Eleanor Clift
Updated: 12:33 p.m. ET Feb. 13, 2004Feb. 13 -
With a newly grown beard and a stocking hat on his bald head, nobody recognizes Jesse Ventura when he strides around Harvard Square. It's not just the new look, it's that nobody expects to find Jesse "the Body" at Harvard, least of all Jesse himself. "I'm a kid from South Minneapolis; I enlisted in the Navy, barely went to college and now I'm teaching at Harvard," he says.
Jesse and I have something in common. I'm a kid from Queens, I started as a secretary, barely went to college and I'm at Harvard speaking to a group of students that includes the former governor of Minnesota, who is the high priest of third-party politics. The office I've been assigned for an afternoon at the Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics is next to Ventura's, where I hear him regaling a constant stream of wide-eyed students with tales from his wrestling days mixed in with his take on politics.
One of the courses Ventura is offering during his three-month fellowship is about how pro wrestling prepares you for politics. "Kids love wrestling, so why not," he says. Besides, he been asked that a hundred times, and he's got the answers. First, it has to do with selling yourself. When he was wrestling, he got paid a percentage of the gate—"how many keisters I could put in the seats." When you're a candidate, rather than keisters, it's votes, but you're still selling yourself. Second, you have to think on your feet and you get very comfortable in front of TV cameras and large audiences because you're performing. Finally, the character you're playing may not be anything like how you are in real life.
Ventura's also planning to cover terrorism because every politician today has to know about terrorism, he explains. Is he a politician? "No, I'm a statesman," he exclaims. "One term you're a statesman; more than one, you're a politician." The students hear enough from the theoreticians, whom Ventura calls "the paper-pusher policy people," so his curriculum is radically different. "I'm going to bring a shooter in," he says, "someone on the ground level who's killing terrorists."
Ventura is a magnet for students, and he seems to never tire of talking about, well, whatever. "He's a talk show without commercials," says Lynn Sweet, the Washington bureau chief of the Chicago Sun-Times, whose office is across from Ventura's. College students have a strong interest in third-party politics, and Ventura lays it out for them. "I tell them what a horrible fight it is," he says. "But it's not always about winning the election; it's about carrying the agenda. The two parties want so bad to keep us out of the game, they focus on what brings us into the game." Case in point: Ross Perot, whose 1992 White House bid forced the politicians to address the deficit.
In addition to shaping young minds, Ventura wants to use his three-month stint at Harvard to get himself in shape. He has a special ID card, normally given only to varsity athletes, that allows him to work out with the football team. He uses the treadmill, what he calls "rat running," and pumps iron with light weights and lots of repetitions. During his four years as governor, he stopped working out and gained too much weight. Now campus life is an opportunity to live right. He doesn't have a car; he walks everywhere, and at his apartment, "I'm not buying any of these foods you eat while you watch TV. If you don't have them, you can't eat them."
But he loves to tell students about the glory days when he could eat a whole apple pie and still have washboard abs. When he was training to wrestle, he would wash down four raw eggs three times a day—"nine grams an egg of the purest protein," he says, waxing nostalgic about how his mother bought him farm-fresh eggs, and the regimen added 22 needed pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame.
Ventura was looking forward to taking a course in African-American studies with author and professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. As a newly inaugurated governor, Ventura had sat in the front row when Gates spoke in Minneapolis for Martin Luther King Day. Gates walked up to the microphone, looked right at the controversial governor, smiled and said, "You're going to find out what it's like to be a black man in America."
It turns out that Gates is on leave, so Ventura will miss out on comparing notes with the famed professor. But if attracting controversy is part of the minority experience, Ventura qualifies. His weekend show on MSNBC was canceled in part, he suspects, because he is adamantly opposed to the Iraq war and unafraid to say things that mainstream media consider over the top, like why don't the Bush daughters enlist if their father is so gung-ho for war. He has a three-year contract with MSNBC at a salary commensurate with that of a professional athlete, he tells a group of students, yet he's not on the air. "So they're paying you to do nothing?" asks one incredulous young man. "That's right," Ventura replies. No wonder he’s enjoying Harvard.
© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.
02-14-2004, 04:33 PM #2
And he got the governership through the hearts of college students Here in Minnesota...
he was quick to understand he wasn't going to be a 2 term governer........
but i liked him.........The answer to your every question
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02-14-2004, 04:37 PM #3
Speaking of Jesse Ventura, I watched the movie Predator with Ahhhnowld and Jesse yesterday
02-14-2004, 05:02 PM #4
I always sort of liked the guy,I suppose it's the way he voices his opinion and doesn't seem to care what anyone says about it.
02-14-2004, 05:25 PM #5Originally Posted by Da Bull
02-23-2004, 12:14 PM #6
this could and prolly will piss a few ppl off, but here goes. i am so sick of celebrities and athletes postin their opinions and runnin for public office, most of them arnt educated enough for their positions, and most of them are just stupid loudmouths(micheal moorer, martin sheen, arnold, jessie, bill maher) just bc you are a good actor, bodybuilder or wrester, doenst mean you should be put in charge of citizens money, health care, or anything that isnt related for a gym or a wrestling mat. there should be a law, once you have a career other than politics, u cant enter it. leave this ****ty little biz to the little rats who aspire to be the POS we stay mad at, bc they know why, not bc they are a dumbass wrestler or austrain who lucked into the job.
02-23-2004, 03:03 PM #7
I'll post an oposing view just for the heck of it here...
I think what makes or breaks a democracy is the ability of ANYONE to be elected to represent the people and not just a select few of the social or educational elite.
Of course by casting their vote, the people assumes responsability for who they put in office. If their elect a moron because he's popular (sports or movie star) then tough cookies folks... they have to live and learn.
Just an oposing view for the heck of it
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