Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A guy (you) walks into a bar, six days or six months or six years from now, and some leather-lunged former fan of yours hollers, “Hey Jesse! Good job at kicking that widow’s ass! Nice work beating a dead guy!”
No? Well, get ready, because that’s your legacy if you keep going with this lawsuit that matches two egomaniacal macho military men in a dispute over a bar fight that probably never happened but is now being drawn out in stunningly tedious fashion in a U.S. District courtroom in St. Paul, thanks to you and your need to be on stage and winning.
I’m sure you see it differently, that this is a fight to save your besmirched reputation and a blow for the truth, but from here it stinks of a low-rent wrestling card that nobody but you wants anything to do with:
In this corner, we have you, the Navy SEAL/wrestler/actor/conspiracy theorist and former governor of Minnesota. In that corner, we have Chris Kyle, who before he was murdered last year on a shooting range by a fellow gun enthusiast and former soldier, wrote a book called “American Sniper: The autobiography of the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history” and alleged that while at a bar in San Diego in 2006, he clocked a guy he nicknamed “Scruff Face” (you) for making disparaging remarks about America and the SEALS.
Who will prevail? Who is the biggest, truest SEAL? Who is the real American hero? Who will come out on top in Clint Eastwood’s forthcoming Kyle biopic? Who is the most patriotic patriot? Who has the biggest penis?
Governor, you and I both know enough about bars and bullies that some guys are always looking for a fight, in real life or in print, and the only thing you can do is not engage, walk away, and create something better. You said as much yourself in court Friday, when talking about how you avoided conflict during your wrestling days.
“You can avoid a lot of situations by not putting yourself in bad situations,” you told the jury, most of whom looked as bored as the judge, I, and the few gathered media/gallery members were. “It’s kind of like you’re going down a road and one road is well-lit and the other is dark and sinister and you’ve got to make a choice which road you’re gonna go down. If you’re smart, you’ll take the one that’s well-lit and not put yourself in a position where something could happen.”
Governor, listen to yourself. I did, Friday. I sat behind you in the front row, watching you spasmodically rock back and forth and listened to you talk about your life, career and accomplishments. “All of my books have been New York Times best sellers,” you said, three times. You recounted films you’ve starred in, talked about how you told a friend “can’t” isn’t in your vocabulary when he told you “you can’t win” the 1998 race for governor, recounted how you “shocked the world” by becoming governor, claimed how you teaching as a fellow at Harvard could happen “only in America,” and expounded on how your talk radio voice has consistently risen above the rest of the media jackals.
More than anything, you were on the stand to prove your love of country and SEALS. You spoke passionately about your parents’ service in World War II. You brought in five boxes of 100 Underwater Demolition Team SEALS T-shirts you’ve collected over the years, and unbuttoned your shirt to show your SEALS tattoo to a couple of reporters at the end of Friday’s proceedings before your attorneys corralled you.
“My service in the UDT SEALS is probably the most proudest thing I’ve ever done, even more so than becoming mayor and governor,” you told the jury. “Because that was something solely based upon me. Becoming mayor and governor, was based upon you. But going through BUDS (basic underwater demolition) and UDT SEALS training was only me. It defines me today, I carry it with pride today. It’s the thing I’m probably most proud of in my 63 years of existence of anything I’ve done.”
Brother, listen to yourself. Then do yourself a favor and walk away – not only from this endless stupid bar fight that left Kyle’s widow sobbing on the stand last week, but from the military industrial complex that brainwashed you into believing in fight not flight. Take those boxes of SEAL shirts and torch them in a massive purifying ceremony, then get on with the next part of your life, about which I’ve got a few ideas.
Look, we go way back. You saved my life when you were working as an ASIA security beast for the Rolling Stones/Peter Tosh concert at the St. Paul Civic Center on July 10, 1978. We were both in front of the stage, on other sides of the security barrier. The crush of thousands of Stones fans had cracked the wooden boards in front of me and the knife-planks were stabbing into my 19-year-old chest.
When I yelled for help you braced your back up against it, called for help, and duct-taped and roped the planks together. The Stones came on soon after and blew our minds.
I’ve thanked you for it before, the one time we had a phone conversation, and now I’m wondering: Where’s the Jesse who took in all the music that night? Where’s the fun, forgiveness, and true freedom, the kind that has nothing to do with America or the military’s narrow definition of it? Where’s the spiritual insight that you presumably glean from your annual six months “off the grid” you take in Mexico?
Well, I believe it’s in there, somewhere deep down, and just waiting to be tapped and unleashed. My brother, I saw you exchange a warm if uncomfortable grin with Mrs. Kyle in the courtroom Friday, which leads me to believe that all is not lost, and that you have an opportunity here. We live in crazy times in a crazy world, but you have a chance to do some real good. Instead of the emperor with no clothes you very much resembled on the stand Friday, you have a chance to, in one sweet moment, serve as an elder, a wise man, and become the face of anti-douchebag nation.
Just do it. Hold a press conference. Hug the widow. Have a good cry (the real kind, not the fake-actor kind that made headlines over the weekend), and become Jesse Ventura, new age man and leader of the feMENist movement who strikes a blow for compassion above all else. “I was wrong and he was wrong,” your prepared statement will read. “This whole thing has been gauche and ungentlemanly and unworthy of the SEALS. Chris was my SEAL brother, and out of respect for his memory, I’m putting this behind me. Mrs. Kyle, I’m sorry for your loss. We can do better. Love thy enemy. Let the healing begin!”
Since that’s not likely to happen anytime soon (say, like when you take the stand again today) and because you’re not about to listen to me, maybe you’ll listen to your friend and fellow SEAL Robert Leonard, who wearily said on the stand Friday, “[Jesse] doesn’t want to be here. We shouldn’t be here. As far as I’m concerned, Chris Kyle and [Jesse] should have figured this out between themselves.”
Walk away, governor, or the joke’s on you.