We thought Memorial Day would be a most appropriate time to bring you a few thoughts on the Iraq War from former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura.
This onetime pro wrestler, Navy SEAL, politician and patriot has strong opinions about what’s happening to our country – and a few creative solutions to these problems, too.
Today’s installment is Part I of a two-part series on Governor Ventura, who is considering a run for the White House as an independent candidate. If Ventura runs, he says he wants Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as his VP.
We’ll tell you more about that tomorrow in Pt. II. You won’t want to miss it.
Kinky Friedman, a Lone Star icon and 2006 independent candidate for Texas Governor, plots political strategy with former independent Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura (who has since shaved off those fabulous, freaky Fu Manchu whiskers).
VENTURA ON IRAQ: BOTH PARTIES ARE RESPONSIBLE
In his new book, Don’t Start The Revolution Without Me, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura reflects on how the Iraq war has served to deepen his independent convictions. He rightly blames the Bush administration and a Republican-controlled Congress for the start of the war, but certainly doesn’t spare the Democrats any blows, either.
On page 267, he body-slams Bush for The Big Lie which took us into Iraq:
“Okay, if we lie to our government, we go to jail. But what happens when the government lies to us?…Oh, that’s right, we go to war. And I make the point that I’m not talking only about the current war, but how the Vietnam War escalated after Lyndon Johnson’s administration concocted the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
I’m also very angry at the Democrats, who were cowards from the beginning of the Iraq ordeal. They seemed so frightenend of their political standing, or of what Karl Rove and the Bush machine had created, they wouldn’t just stand up and say no. Even now that the Democrats control Congress again, they will only go so far. They want a timetable for withdrawing our troops, but they don’t seem ready to hold Bush’s feet to the fire to get it. I, at least, give the Republicans credit for having courage, misguided though it may be. I don’t think anyone who voted for this war deserves to be president, Democrat or Republican.
What frustrates and angers me more than anything is this: It’s my generation. We’ve been lead down this primrose path once before already, with Vietnam. Shouldn’t we, of all people, know about being deceived? How dumb can we be? Now we’ve gone and done the very thing we protested so vehemently against in our youth. We’ve become what we feared.
Maybe it’s time we recalled the words of Robert F. Kennedy, when he was running for president in 1968: “I am concerned – as I believe most Americans are concerned – that the course we are following at the present time is deeply wrong. I am concerned – as I believe most Americans are concerned – that we are acting as if no other nations existed, against the judgment and desires of neutrals and our historic allies alike. I am concerned – as I believe most Americans are concerned – that our present course will not bring victory; will not bring peace; will not stop the bloodshed; and will not advance the interests of the United States or the cause of peace in the world. I am concerned that, at the end of it all, there will only be more Americans killed; more of our treasure spilled out; and because of the bitterness and hatred on every side of the war, more hundreds of thousands of (civilians) slaughtered; so they may say, as Tacitus said of Rome: `They made a desert, and called it peace.'”
WOULD RFK HAVE LEFT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?
Ventura is right, in a sense: had the political climate within the Democratic party in 1968 been what it is today, Robert Kennedy might have been forced to run as an independent. RFK’s turn against his party, his president, even his own late brother’s policy on Vietnam could have – and in today’s political world, likely would have – cost him the Democratic party nomination.
Try to imagine the Republican party nominating an anti-war candidate in 2008. Not gonna happen. No matter how unpopular their president is; no matter how misguided the policy which lead us into Iraq and keeps us there day after bloody day, they’re still towing the party line when it comes to the war.
Which brings us back to the here and now: if the majority of Americans want the war in Iraq ended as soon as possible, and two of the three U.S. Senators currently running for the presidency voted to authorize this war, does that leave only Barack Obama as “qualified” to be president, by Ventura’s logic?
Perhaps. But what we don’t know is this: would Barack Obama be opposing the war if a Democratic president had gotten us into it? Would Clinton?
It’s an interesting hypothetical, one to consider. Although Hillary Clinton undoubtedly made the wrong choice in voting to authorize our invasion of Iraq, at least we can evaluate her as a presidential candidate based on her vote (and her later mea culpa). In Obama’s case, we just don’t know. He wasn’t in the Senate at the time of that critical vote. We can only assume that his motivations to oppose the war are strictly moral, and not political.
Although Ventura says that Obama is the best of the two-party choices this year, he still has his doubts. Is Obama qualified? Will he be the strong leader we need now? Who’s really pulling his strings? Can he be trusted to uphold all those lofty campaign promises?
Obama’s a gamble, yes – but it seems the American people have nothing left to lose. We’re probably going to put Obama in the White House this November simply to free ourselves from more of the same-old, same-old, if for no other reason.
Unless some formidable independent contender should suddenly appear on the horizon to challenge the two-party system. With the exception of Ralph Nader, independent voters are left with a barren landscape of choices so far this year.
There is, of course, another option Ventura’s been thinking about. You know that old saying, “if you want a job done right, do it yourself?”
Perhaps we could add to that sage wisdom: “And always be sure to pick an unimpeachable running mate!”
AND WE ALL KNOW WHO THAT IS
For Jesse Ventura, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is exactly that man. In his new book, Ventura makes no secret of who he wants to run beside him, even going so far as to put forward a fantasy-scenario of this “dream ticket” burning up the campaign trail this summer.
And it all sounds really good – great, in fact – so good you find yourself starting to dream about it, too…Until the last two pages, when the dream turns into a nightmare.
Thankfully, that’s only fiction. What this blogger worries about, though, is that if strong, brave leaders like Ventura and Kennedy don’t offer themselves to represent the people during America’s “hour of maximum peril” (to quote JFK), we may wake up one morning soon to find that our worst nightmares have come true.
Ventura, to his eternal credit, has offered himself wholeheartedly (as any good soldier would when he hears the call of his country). He has said he is willing and able to run for president as an independent and believes he can win.
He’s not the coy, passively-reluctant candidate. This old fighter is just itching to get back into the ring for another round: “Give me ballot access,” he recently told Larry King, “and I’ll beat `em all!”
I’m in no position to disagree with that statement. The Maverickfrom Minnesota only needs two things right now to become the first independent President of the United States: 1) ballot access, and 2) RFK Jr.
But can Ventura convince Kennedy to leave the Democratic party and join him on The Quest?
We’ll explore that question in Pt. II tomorrow. Stay tuned…
Copyright RFKin2008.com. Book excerpt copyright 2008 by Jesse Ventura.
UPDATE: Jesse Ventura told CNN’s Larry King this week he is considering an independent bid for the Minnesota U.S. Senate Seat that Al Franken is currently running for. Should Jesse do it? Or is there already one comedian too many in this race?