The Performing SEAL
Excessive tact is not something Off Beat has ever been accused of, so let us be the ones to note what other members of the international media circus at Monday's gubernatorial inauguration festivities were apparently too polite to mention: The affair itself was a snoozer. "I'm not going to change," Gov. James George Janos began his speech, and went on to prove it by recycling every line his followers have heard at infinitum. There was the promise that he would do the best job he could ("and that's the only promise I'll make"), the scout's-honor pledge of honesty, the tribute to his Navy buddies. Perhaps the only surprise from a man who got elected by railing against "career politicians" was a warm salute to a guy whose entire working life has been spent in government service: Minnesota, Jesse said, owes Arne Carlson "a debt of gratitude." While the assembled pols and pundits nodded sagely, a hardy band of picketers outside tried to remind the new governor of his campaign-trail promises with signs à la "Where's Our $1,000?" Ah, but that was then.
Missing in Action
Old political issues never die, they're simply rekindled in cyberspace. On the official Web site of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (www.mdva.state.mn.us), visitors can find this celebratory message scrolling across the screen: "Jesse Ventura, Minnesota's Governor-Elect, is a Combat-Experienced Vietnam Veteran!" While Off Beat admires the department's pride in having a vet elected to the state's highest office, we couldn't help but recall that during the campaign, Ventura testily refused to discuss the issue. When directly asked by City Pages' Britt Robson ("The Body Politic," 9/30/98) if he had ever seen combat, the gube-to-be responded, "That's no one's business." Does the MDVA know something that voters didn't? Nope. Scotty Campbell, information officer for the MDVA, says until Off Beat called, he wasn't aware that the claim was posted on their Web site. "I would rather not even use that term without his consent," says Campbell, adding that "there's been a certain amount of euphoria around here. Maybe in haste or something, that was plugged in there."
Does The Mind Move the Market?
Off Beat habitually follows news from Wall Street, looking for signs of hope, portents of the apocalypse, and material for cheap jokes. So we've been stunned to find that while market observers often note the Dow-Jones Industrial Average's responses to presidential sex scandals, bombing campaigns, and other events that may or may not have any real bearing on stock performance, no one thus far seems to have assessed the Street's response to Jesse Ventura. To remedy that failing, Off Beat undertook an extensive investigation, with startling results:
- The first day of trading after Ventura's surprise election, a Body-giddy Dow rose 77 points, to 8783.
- On November 30, Ventura said he would support legislation allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp. A nervous Dow dropped more than 216 points to 9116.
- The Doonesbury comic strip began lampooning Ventura on December 15. The market enjoyed the parody and the Dow climbed more than 127 points, to 8823.
- On December 23, the Dow leapt more than 157 points to close at 9202 when the Ventura camp announced that Jesse action figures would hit the market in the spring.
- By the time the closing bell rang on December 31, the Dow had climbed more than 475 points, up 5.5 percent in the nearly two months since Ventura's irrationally exuberant election.
As Off Beat went to press, we learned that other financial gurus share our interest in the Mind/market dynamic. CBS MarketWatch's Dr. Paul B. Farrell has christened Ventura "Man of the Year," giddily proclaiming, "Big funds are like pro wrestlers: top performers with integrity."
Eat That, Buddy
In concluding this all-Ventura issue of Off Beat (promise, it won't happen again!), let us note that one member of the Ventura clan has been almost totally overlooked since The Body became The Mind: Franklin the family bulldog. Asked recently how he felt Franklin would adjust to moving to the governor's mansion, Ventura replied, "I think he'll miss the old place. We'll be on the patio out front and I'll look at him and say, 'Franklin! Attack!' And he'll race out onto the lawn and then look at me again. And I'll say, 'Franklin! Attack!' And he'll charge out and start biting one of the big trees we have in the yard. There's scars and places where the bark has been taken on trees all over the yard."
At Off Beat our motto is "Staying informed so you don't have to." Call 372-3788 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with any poop that's fit to print.
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