Professor Ventura

Newsweek reveals the whereabouts of the former pro wrestler-turned-Minnesota governor:

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.


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.”


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.

Only in America.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

    H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)