(See UPDATE following post.
Quatorze Juillet. Fourteenth of July. Bastille Day. The rabble stormed the prison fortress, ultimately changing the course of history for France. It took a while, but it was worth it.
Shift now to Quatorze Juillet 2008 in the good old U.S. of A. And what do we have going on in the land of the free and the home of the media obsessed? We have (wee drum roll) Jesse Ventura Redux. Yes, right here in the heartland. The guy who seized the governor’s mansion in a now-famous 1998 coup d’etat.
In fairness, most of those who voted for Ventura believed it was a completely harmless, token protest to backroom, smoke-filled, good ol’ boys' politicking. No one imagined for a minute that the man could possibly win. After all, he was taking on the son of the iconic Hubert Humphrey and the smiley, party-hopping chameleon Norm Coleman (albeit prior to Norm’s dental makeover, which ultimately contributed to his electoral success--how else to explain it?).
Ventura’s polling numbers when he entered the race bottom-plopped at around nine percent. But in November, he garnered more than a third of the vote, winning the election and dumping the astonished pols on their good ol’ boy asses. I must confess to having some delight in that. Read on, Macduff.
In the beginning, it looked like a not-so-bad outcome. Early on, Ventura’s approval rating topped 70%. He was weirdly refreshing and surprisingly competent in his new job. He was big on light rail, education financing and property tax reform, among other things. He spoke plainly and candidly, which stood in stark contrast to his predecessors and his slithery successor.
But the bloom came off the rose in a hurry, particularly because Ventura had both the Republicans and the Democrats on his case. Well, that and the fact that his weirdness was no longer refreshing and his competence turned iffy. He flat-out refused to kiss media ass, and his decision to go mano a mano with the press did not serve him well.
Long before his term expired, Ventura ended up living out the dire predictions of his early detractors. Words like “buffoon,” “egomaniac,” and “wackadoodle” surfaced in discussions about him. Okay, I made up the wackadoodle part. It’s more PC than what was really being said.
Ventura left office pissed off at just about everyone, refusing to run for re-election (which is one of the few good decisions out of his last year in the political arena). And pretty much everyone was pissed off with Ventura, which made it a kind of tidy quid pro quo. Pissed off and embarrassed. We were relieved to be finished with him.
Now the big galoot is threatening to enter the U.S. Senate race, which at the moment features Al Franken and same-old, same-old Norm Coleman and lawyer Mike Ciresi, who simply refuses to go away.
Ventura is scheduled to appear on the Larry King show tonight, whereon he will finally announce his decision about running. (Tomorrow is the last day for filing a candidacy.)
He said last week that even his wife (the long-suffering Terry) doesn’t know what he’s going to do. Well, duh! That is so, like, Venturish. It is also noteworthy that “The Body” has chosen to announce his intentions thus. Everything about him has become a carnival, a B-list entertainment event. He is the star of his own show, always.
I’m waiting breathlessly for Ventura’s declaration of intent (or lack of same). No, really. The thing is, I have absolutely no idea when or where Larry King does his thingie on the air. Also, I have absolutely no intention of figuring that out.
I guess I’ll have to wait to read this in tomorrow’s newspaper. And given the dreck that appears on those pages, I imagine Jesse Ventura’s decision will be headline news.
Appropriate to this day in French history, Minnesota’s state motto is “L’Etoile du Nord,” which some wags say means “toilet of the north.” Really, that’s only true during election season. Of course, lately, election season runs from one election to the next.
Anyone care to join me in storming the Bastille or suckin' up some Grand Marnier or somethin'?
UPDATE: Well, hellfire and damnation. The Body has decided not to run for the Senate. There goes the bizarre humiliation factor.
But wait! Priscilla Lord Faris (daughter of Miles Lord whose history in MN is, well, legendary and checkered) IS going to enter the race. She plans to square off against Franken in the primary, ostensibly to toughen him up for Coleman.
Ah, jeez. I went to school with Priscilla Lord. I sure never saw this coming back in the day. Of course, I was living in a household so strongly Republican, I doubt I could imagine anyone in my constellation actually being one of those pesky Democrats. Now Priscilla is throwing her beret into Jesse's vacated ring. Seems like a wackadoodle move, but what do I know?
Pass the Pouilly Fuisse, s'il vous plait.
(Thus ended the extended and overused French metaphor extravaganza.)