The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Columns

July 20, 2012

Ojanpa: Gov rightly admits his wrong

— There are times when the mouth of a governor needs to be governed.

Such was the case with Mark Dayton this week and, his subsequent apology notwithstanding, it demonstrated anew why people in high office should not pontificate from positions of ignorance.

Dayton’s dunderheaded remarks came during a Minnesota Public Radio interview, when discussion came around to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s recent arrest following an altercation in a Houston bar.

A prudent politician would have given the topic short shrift and steered conversation elsewhere, the reason being that the facts of the case haven’t been made public.

But as far as Dayton is concerned, prudence is just the name of some woman in a gothic novel. So putting foot in mouth he blundered ahead, suggesting that young male pro athletes have too much time on their hands for their own good.

“Idle time is the devil’s play,” he said, sounding like an old country preacher.

If that’s true, then all those idle folks in nursing homes should be dealing meth and robbing banks. But I digress.

Dayton then clarified, sort of, what he meant.

“It means that young males who are heavily armored and heavily psyched as necessary to carry out their job are probably more susceptible to being in bars at (2 a.m.) and having problems.”

That sentence raises three questions: Huh? Huh? and Huh?

Dayton then let loose with his most preposterous statement, the one that prompted him — more likely after a push from his more astute aides — to apologize for saying something so stunningly stupid.

He likened the wayward behavior of players (the Vikings boast an NFL-leading 39 arrests since 2000) to post-traumatic stress disorder soldiers incur after combat, likening football to “slightly civilized war.”

Let 3,000 fans in the stands fire M16s and grenade launchers at the players and I’ll buy his Peterson-as-a-shell-shocked-soldier argument. But until then, no dice.

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