The Corner

Politics & Policy

Hulks, Bodies, and Others

Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura speaks to the media in St. Paul on November 4, 2002. (Eric Miller / Reuters)

My Impromptus today begins with a discussion of manliness, which is a question that keeps coming up, especially on the right: What is manliness, or manhood? What is a real man? Is there a difference between machismo and manliness? Do you buy the “alpha”/“beta” stuff? Etc., etc.

One could write a book, and Harvey Mansfield, superbly, has. (Actually, the best book about manhood is the Bible, but that’s another post or two . . .)

Over my column is an absolutely delightful photo of Hulk Hogan (with a young female fan, imitating his flexing). Above this here Corner post is a photo of another pro wrestler, Jesse “The Body” Ventura — who, in 1998, got elected governor of Minnesota. He was a precursor of Trump — a harbinger of the explosive populist politics to come.

Remember that Trump mixed it up in professional wrestling. Here he is at WrestleMania in 2007. He would ride something like this act all the way to the White House — one of the most incredible stories in American history.

Let me give you a memory of 1999, please, when Governor George W. Bush of Texas was starting his run for president. I interviewed his foreign-policy adviser, Condoleezza Rice, late of the Bush administration, which is to say, the administration that would become known as the “Bush 41” administration. I questioned her about the governor’s foreign-policy credentials. He was a neophyte, right? Rice countered that he was the governor of a border state. “So is Jesse Ventura,” I cracked. She narrowed her eyes, memorably, and said, “You know what I mean.”

Before I leave, I must say a further word about Hulk — Hulk Hogan. For a while, he was a neighbor of my friend — and National Review’s friend — Martha Apgar, about whom I wrote here. She said that Hulk was a wonderful neighbor, a peach of a guy. FWIW.

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