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Headlock: Ben Stein Takes Down Jesse Ventura in Larry King’s Ring

Posted on November 4 2009 9:28 am
David Forsmark is the owner and president of Winning Strategies, a full service political consulting firm in Michigan. David has been a regular columnist for Frontpage Magazine since 2006. For 20 years before that, he wrote book, movie and concert reviews as a stringer for the Flint Journal, a midsize daily newspaper.
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Ben Stein took Jesse Ventura and Larry King to School

Last night, while Republicans swept to victory in overwhelming fashion, as voters rejected the Obama/Pelosi Far Left agenda; Larry King’s topic of choice was whether the Right (which he incessantly called, “he Far Righ”) was a threat to the Republican Party.

Once Wolf Blitzer reported that Conservative Party Candidate Doug Hoffman had lost the New York 23rd to Democrat Bill Owens, King declared it, “the first defeat for the far right tonight” and the sole focus of King’s Election Night coverage became whether the Republican Party was driving moderates away and becoming the party of loonies.

To make that point, his panel included those fonts of moderate reasonableness, Air America’s Ana Marie Cox and the pro-wrestler formerly known as James George Janos,  Jesse Ventura!

Presumably, Ventura was there to stand up for the idea of third parties; but he had no good word for Doug Hoffman, or the fact that he would obviously have been the choice of the people in a primary. No, Ventura acted as though the humiliation of the smoke-filled room candidate was going to be the catalyst for a “moderate third party.”

Cox and Ventura were balanced by the Washington Times’ Amanda Carpenter and all-around smart guy Ben Stein.  While Cox and Carpenter were evenly matched and smart, this kind of panel inevitably gravitates toward the prominent TV personalities.

Ventura was as out of his intellectual weight class trying to directly take on Ben Stein as Billy Barty would have been in the ring with Jesse the Body.

But Ventura’s sheer stupidity was evenly matched by King’s doddering cluelessness as the two competed to show who was the most out of touch with current reality.

Here was the night’s funniest exchange:

KING: All right. Ben, do you see the far right, as evidenced by — we all know who they are — as a threat to your party?

STEIN: Not at all. Not in the slightest. I think you’re talking about people like my wonderful friend Ann Coulter and my wonderful friend Rush Limbaugh. I think those people are activating the party. They are keeping the party alive while it doesn’t have, really, a national political leader. I think they’re — they’re fine people. Sometimes they go off the he deep end, but they’re really wonderful people. And I don’t think they’re — I don’t think they’re that far right. I mean, they’re a lot farther right than I am on many issues. But they’re not that far right. They are people who are trying to keep the Constitution alive. It’s really all about protecting the Constitution.

COX: I just want to say I second the…

KING: Or their interpretation of it.

COX: I second his endorsement of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter as leaders of the Republican Party. I’m all for that. Go.

CARPENTER: I don’t think he said that they’re leaders of the Republican Party.

KING: If (ph) Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are leading the party, the party ain’t going to win many national elections.

CARPENTER: I think that’s probably the case.

VENTURA: A question, Larry. If these are — if these are people that he’s talking about that follow the Constitution, then why was the Constitution violated in the Terri Schiavo case? The Constitution clearly states you cannot pass a law for one person. And yet the Republican — the Republican president did it, as well as the Republican Congress at the time.

KING: That’s another issue.

VENTURA: I don’t buy this stuff.

STEIN: The Constitution says you cannot pass a bill of attainder, which means a bill which attaints a family or person. They didn’t attaint anyone. They were trying to save someone’s life. It’s not an attaint.

KING: OK, we’ll be — we’ll…

VENTURA: You use a big word, but we know what they did.

A bill of attainder is the taking away of an individual’s civil rights by the legislature.  No matter what you think of the wisdom of the Terry Shiavo case, it’s pretty hard not to come to the conclusion that the effort toward her by social conservatives had exactly the opposite intent.

Here’s an even bigger word you shouldn’t throw around because you don’t understand it, Jesse.  Con-sti-tu-tion.

Maybe it’s time to change Jesse’s signature tag line.  How about “Ain’t got time to READ?”

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