"You wanna know why the world's a mess? Look who breeds." I used to think this snot-filled reply satisfied the question of "Why things suck." I saw my friends -- poets, artists, big-head geniuses -- not having kids while stupid people multiplied like Tribbles. Sensible persons would be the last bearers of their family name, while the ignorant, arrogant or accident-prone would carpet the planet with their dumb-bunny offspring. You can't have a Golden Delicious world if the only seeds that hit the ground are crab apples.
This is one of those theories that the phrase "in theory" was made for. In theory it seems like the world would be a saner, gentler place if it was full of, and run by, Garrison Keillors, Linda Ellerbees and Stephen Hawkings. But in Darwinian terms, none of them were really meant to survive. Neither was I. We all wear some kind of corrective eyewear. This means, in the natural world, we would be the ones who didn't see the tiger, who misjudged the cliff face, who picked up the "stick" that was actually a "cobra." Most people who have nosebleed IQs have ophthalmology to thank for their very lives. Anyway, a race of mealy eggheads would go extinct because it spent too much time nattering over the merits of reproducing instead of just doing it.
If career politicians end up going extinct it will be because they are that race of mealy eggheads: near-sighted, static and so in love with debate they never seem to act. The incestuous nature of the beast has led to deformity of the system. Voter turnout is low because people feel like they're voting for one of two conjoined twins, considering the candidates all seem so milktoast and similar. We all feel sometimes it's just a little freak show and half the time we don't want to look.
Lost that lovin' feeling
Then along comes Jesse Ventura. The new Minnesota governor talked like a normal person. He dared to be naive. He tackled a people's government that has turned too expensive and exclusive for the people and he won. He was real. People loved him for it.
Well, they say they love it. But when you hand it to them, the don't think its so great anymore.
Ventura's autobiography, "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed," tells everything you ever wanted to know about Jesse, plus a lot of things people didn't want to know. His accounts of teen-age drinking, anonymous sex and not wearing underwear (a Navy SEAL tradition) have made a bunch of people bristle that hizzoner is not so honorable and is presenting a bad image for kids and an embarrassing one for constituents. One critic said, "Ventura's book makes us look like we're just one big Jerry Springer audience for electing the guy."
Maybe, but there are some good stories -- like the one from his Navy days where he gets paid by the hooker. She loved his belt, made from empty shell casings, and offered to buy it for free sex and $10, which he accepted and then used to buy another chick trick. It sounds like simple capitalism from here.
OK, Ventura is never going to have to set aside time to polish his halo, but the wave of criticism for his straightforwardness may prove you find what you're looking for. I read the same book other people did. What I walked away with was not prostitutes and pot smoking but a huge impression of how much loyalty means to him. Ventura has a colossal ego, but it deflates to a humble reverence when he talks about the importance of his family and friends, from the old neighborhood all the way to Hollywood. He knows that these people will be there when his titles aren't and accords them respect. If I found this to be such an inescapable background score, how did it get drowned out in other people's minds by a few shrill notes of youthful indiscretion?
The real deal
And as far as role models go, maybe having one or two with a few human characteristics wouldn't be such a bad idea. There's no better example of the failure of the flawless icon than Catholic school kids. We all get screwed up about sex. Why? Because we learn about it from priests and nuns. If you only have someone to go to who is unable to relate to your earth emotions, you're not going to go to them. The unrealistic pursuit of perfection, the pretending that these problems don't exist for everyone, leads to people pretending to be fine when they're not, painting over rotten wood and then wondering how come the house fell down.
People who never admit their flaws never change them. Ventura can admit his imperfections, which may be part of the reason he's been able to grow tougher and smarter. "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed" is an eye-opener -- it might be unexpected and sometimes unsavory, but at least it offers a clear picture. And without a clear vision you might misjudge the cliff face, and if you're leading the group, they'll all go down with you. That's devolution. At least in theory.