Observing US:
A column about America,
by Marylaine Block
originally published by
Fox News Online, 1998-2000

#55, October 5, 1999


by Marylaine Block

The advantage of electing a governor who is not a career politician is that you're pretty sure he's saying what he believes. The drawback, as Jesse Ventura demonstrateS, is that he doesn't have the good sense to not say it.

It was bad enough that he called organized religion "a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers." Usually we call sweeping generalizations about entire groups of people "bigotry," and usually politicians who harbor such thoughts know better than to express them in public.

But if they do get caught expressing such ideas, most seasoned politicians have the sense to apologize, or at least claim their remarks were misquoted or taken out of context. Ventura's idea of an apology is saying: "Being weak-minded is not necessarily a detriment." Oh, you silver-tongued flatterer, you.

Ventura is delivering is his own version of the unapologetic apology we have seen so often of late, the kind that transfers blame from the person who committed the offense ("I'm sorry, I screwed up, and I won't do it again") to the victim, for being so touchy ("I'm sorry you took offense"). The unique Ventura touch is trying to turn his rude remarks into a virtue: "It's so easy to be politically correct," he says, but "I'm going to be honest. I'm going to continue to speak my mind, and that's who I am."

Now there's a tactic for you: call the simple good manners of refraining from gratuitous insults "political correctness," and assure the "weak-minded" that you're going to keep right on insulting them.

He even suggests that his gaffe is somehow to his credit: "It's so simple to give the right answers, what (people) expect to hear from you, which is what career politicians do." He hopes "they'll at least respect me for being honest." You see, he is more forthright and open than ordinary politicians. You can trust him.

Unless of course, you're one of those weak-minded believers. Or unless you're one of those Navy women groped by drunken louts at the Tailhook Conference, who should realize that "grabbing a woman's breasts or buttocks [isn't] a major situation" and that complaining about it is "much ado about nothing."

The reason one might prefer career politicians is that they at least understand they represent everybody in their district, and need the trust and respect of everyone in their district. True, career politicians may harbor prejudices against certain groups, but they understand that voicing those prejudices will make it difficult for them to work together with those people. Real politicians know how to assume the virtue of evenhanded respect if they have it not.

If Ventura wants credit for honesty, I know how he can get it. If you're reading this, Jesse, repeat after me: "Jeez, that was a dumb thing to say, and I didn't mean it like it sounded. I'm really sorry."

And incidentally, Jesse, if I chanced to say that pro wrestling was for overmuscled jocks with steroids where their brains should be, I hope you wouldn't take offense, because 'roid rage isn't necessarily a detriment. I'm just not into political correctness, because I call them the way I see them. That's why you can trust me.

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