By its terms the Peter Principle applies to bureaucratic organizations rather than show business careers, but there must be some variation of it that applies to Jesse Ventura. The principle states that in a hierarchically structured organization, people tend to be promoted up to their “level of incompetence.”
Former professional wrestler, film actor, radio personality, mayor and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura appears to have turned himself into a walking case study of rising through the force of his persona to various positions at which he is embarrassingly inept. As governor of Minnesota, his act quickly wore thin. As MSNBC television talk show host, his show was grounded shortly after liftoff.
Today’s Boston Globe reports on Ventura’s first class as a visiting fellow at the Kennedy School of Government: “The body politic.” It makes for painful reading, none more so than this:
In the classroom, the performer once known as “The Body” has trouble keeping any body part still. He rocked on the balls of his feet while standing and rocked in his chair while sitting down, which was neither often nor for long. His lecture style, a hodgepodge of candor, stand-up comedy, and pure bombast, proved to be not unlike his interview mode: When backed into a corner, Ventura likes to fire back with questions that begin, “Now, you tell me . . .”
In Minnesota, it’s an act we’re familiar with. We bought it, for a while. We noticed that Governor Ventura had a decent understanding of issues to the extent that they affected him personally. We noticed the somewhat unseemly eagerness with which he sought to cash in on the value added to his career by gubernatorial office. It may take the folks at Harvard a while to catch on, but they can’t be much slower than those of back here in Minnesota. Can they?