That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.
Antony and Cleopatra,  Act 1, Scene 2

Unsilent Truth
July 10, 2019

Ross Perot (1930-2019)

A genuine American with deep pockets — yours


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ROSS PEROT DIED on July 9 of leukemia at the age of 89. He was lionized in most of the major news media. Even Rush Limbaugh — who in 1992 threw cold water on the Perot candidacy for presidency and who thereby risked losing his growing and already unexpected and unequaled audience — spoke of him as "the definition of a real and genuine American."

One of the odd things about the 1992 candidacy was that Perot had discussions with Lloyd Cutler in preparing it, and Cutler became a Perot advisor. In case the reader does not immediately see anything odd about that, let me offer a comparison. Lloyd Cutler was what was called a major "Washington insider," an éminence grise. It was as though someone like John Podesta ... no, that's not quite right: In the consensus universe — of which I am not a part — Lloyd Cutler towered over a John Podesta in reputation and accomplishment the way Brad Garrett would tower physically over Hervé Villechaize.

For the point I want to make, I guess I shall have to settle on Henry Kissinger. It was as though Henry Kissinger had decided to advise Gary Johnson on one of his runs for president on the Libertarian Party ticket. What on Earth, one wondered, could interest Lloyd Cutler in the Perot candidacy?

For that matter, just what was the Perot candidacy about? The joke at the time was, "Why would a billionaire want to move into a smaller house in a black neighborhood?" (It doesn't seem quite so funny now that one has actually done it.) To understand the answer, it is worth remembering that Perot had founded his Electronic Data Systems in 1962, and won for it contracts with the U.S. government computerizing Medicare records. When the company went public in 1968, its stock rose from $16 to $160 in just a few days (in today's money, an increase from $40 to $400). Fortune magazine called him the "fastest, richest Texan" and when General Motors purchased controlling interest in EDS in 1984, they paid $2.4 billion for it, equivalent to about $5.9 billion in today's money.

Once Perot announced his candidacy for president, the newspapers and networks seemed to love him. He was good for circulation and good for ratings. Like Donald Trump, he commanded the media's attention, but he did it by being interesting and a little bit homey. They liked to refer to his supporters as "rebels" and "dissenters," who were fed up with politics as usual and who were hungry for a plain-speaking outsider who said that they owned the country, and that when they took it back, then there would be real change.

Perot's popularity reached nearly 20 percent of likely voters on the day that Bill Clinton was to make his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. And it was on that day ... yes, that very day ... that Perot chose to drop out of the race. Not a few speculated that it seemed that he did not, in fact, wish to live in that black neighborhood after all. When, a couple of months later, it looked as if George H.W. Bush might overtake Bill Clinton in the polls, Perot re-entered the race, fueling the suspicion that the whole campaign was a charade intended only to hurt Bush, with whose family, for reasons somewhat murky, Perot was said to be at odds. He took part in the debates, in which he did well, and lined up a vice-presidential candidate who seemed particularly bewildered by the spotlight that was focused on him.

In the end, Perot won no Electoral College votes, and Bill Clinton won the presidency. One of Clinton's first major official moves was to put Mrs. Clinton in charge of a secret task force to design a universal (i.e., national) health-care program. It became mired (as did so much of the Clinton presidency) in what the mainstream press was authorized to call "controversy," and ultimately failed in 1994, even with both houses of Congress firmly in the hands of the Democratic Party.

In 1996, The Last Ditch learned a little more about the Perot campaign, and I beg the reader's indulgence to reprint the short column of mine that was published on pages 21-22 as part of its "Recon from Roanoke" feature of the October 28, 1996 issue (Whole Number 14). This column has not previously appeared on the TLD website:

I just knew there was something fishy about Ross Perot's 1992 bid for the Presidential Palace: there had to be something about it that was geared to Clinton. The worst of it is that knowing how Perot made his billions — through government contracts — we all should have been able to guess it!

John McCaslin writes in his October 1 "Inside the Beltway" column in the Washington Times:

George Carpozi Jr., longtime New York newspaper journalist and controversial author who's spent the past four years sifting through Bill Clinton's past, now claims Mr. Clinton and Ross Perot struck a deal in 1991 that initiated the billionaire's candidacy as a third-party spoiler.

"In turn, Clinton agreed that his first act as occupant of the Oval Office would be to reform the nation's health-care system with massive changes," Mr. Carpozi writes in a four-page paper being distributed on Capitol Hill. [Interruption here: Do you find it interesting that a longtime New York newspaper journalist and controversial author had to circulate this paper privately? I do. — RNN, 2019]

"Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that Perot played a large hand in first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's efforts to craft the ill-fated health reform bill, which turned Clinton's first year in office into a debacle," Mr. Carpozi claims.

"Even more significantly — if not alarmingly — not one but two of Perot's companies were earmarked in Mrs. Clinton's 'working papers' to play mammoth roles in the health-care industry," he writes.

So those Perotista "dissenters" and "rebels" who trusted the political process and thought they were voting for some kind of structural reform were really voting to further line Perot's pockets. And that's all.

Clinton was just after power in the usual smarmy way we all understand. This Perot weasel, though — with all his self-righteous posturing about loving this country and giving it back to its owners — was just lining up a client. It's not enough that every dime of his billions was squeezed out of taxpayers' hands. He has to contribute to the further tyrannizing of "the owners of this country" in order to squeeze more out! What a bloodsucker!

Carpozi's account makes it possible, at last, to make sense of Perot's 1992 antics: since he had no intention of winning, he had to drop out when he started doing too well. (Remember, he did it during the Democrats' convention and said complimentary things about Clinton, without actually endorsing him.) And then he had to come back in when George Bush was gaining on Clinton in the polls.

As weak a candidate as Bush was, apparently some very unusual steps were taken to make him lose. I begin to discount all that talk that Bush's heart just wasn't in it.

It's always worse than you think.

Such was the candidacy of the man who was the "the definition of a real and genuine American": a man with his hand in your pocket, and ready to sell you out in order to be able to reach in even deeper. Ω

July 10, 2019

Published in 2019 by WTM Enterprises.

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