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.,// lAet,t, STAND OP vo K THE LITTLE pEopLE .FgoM ills Zook .-STANOINC.T TAG Osrwo calk \(SY HATT WOseitsk U iemz florrr MATT WUERKER AFTERWORD Perot, Peron, Peru … BY JAMES MCCARTY YEAGER T. HE ECONOMIST OF LONDON calls him H. Ross Peron, after the elected dictator who was, long ago, going to clean up Argentine political life and wrest it away from the corrupt oligarchy. The instinct to look for parallels is sound, but I think of a nearer one. H. Ross Perot is the Alberto Fujimori of American politics. When the economic interests that dominate politicians demean politics as a calling, those who can be shown to have no political understanding are regarded as pure saviors. A couple of years ago Fujimori was going to clean up Peruvian politics and displace the corrupt oligarchy, etc. Several years of failure later, Fujimori is witnessing his capital being occupied by Shining Path guerrillas; he caved in to the military and thus, in a classic repressive maneuver, drove the moderates into the, arms of the revolutionaries. Meanwhile, H. Ross still sports the bloom on the rose. Though he is fascist enough to scare even the right wing and libertarian enough to Businessman Perot’s claim to fame is that he would shake things up. That a computer salesman with $100 million of his own to devote to the job of electioneering might be tempted to slant any reforms in his own favor seems not to have occurred to an electorate which recently, in a Texas Poll, ranked him first at 35 percent above both Bush and Clinton. A billionaire is hardly material from which to forge an understanding leader of a people whose per capita income shrank last year to $19,082. Still, faced with sluggish Bushismo on the one hand and Clintonic catatonia on the other, H. Ross is doing better in the national polls at this point than John Anderson ever did in 1980. Anderson’s peak was about 22 percent and he ended up with 6 percent of the vote. If he’d had $100 million, God knows how well he would have done. The best that can be expected from H. Ross is that he will cause the Republicans to lose Texas and maybe California. The New York Republican party is so scared of him that they may well be the ones to succeed in keeping him off the ballot. James McCarty Yeager is an ex-Houstonian who edits Minority Business Report, a federal contracting newsletter published in Bethesda, Maryland. In the 1976 election he was one of Gene McCarthy’ s presidential campaign press secretaries. When Gene McCarthy ran as an independent in 1976 \(an effort for which he was publicly excoriated by then-Republican of the ballot access court cases he was forced to bring were not decided until well into 1977. Many ballot access petition filing deadlines have been moved closer to the election date as a result of McCarthy’s 1976 eral, getting on the ballot is easier now than it ever has been for an independent. But the New York ballot law remains one of the best killing grounds of independent candidacies in the nation, and it will be interesting to see if all H. Ross’s horses and all H. Ross’s men can put his ballot access back together again. Once the viciously frightened NY Republican pols have trashed his petitions, invalidating cover sheets and signatures by the gross, it seems unlikely that H. Ross can then get a court decision reinstating the signatures in time for the general election. After all, the same system that produced the ballot petition signature rules, and those who administer them so carefully on behalf of the two parties, also produced the judges who must rule on them. Thus an actual fall campaign by H. Ross is improbable in the extreme, because he most likely won’t be on all 50 state ballots. At first having stated total ballot access as a prerequisite to his running, he has lately revised his position to say that being prevented from running in New York alone would not stop him. Still, H. Ross holds onto the option to back down gracefully in June, when he is supposed to announce his decision, if it appears that he will not get on the ballots in all 50 states. But all the discussion of Perot’s prospects in the near term and perhaps even his programs, which are so reminiscent of the fictional Charles Foster Kane’s will serve to deflect media interest from the manifest failures of the Bush record, and the palpable weakness of the Clinton candidacy, and to that extent will hurt neither of the real contenders. Meantime, the Supreme. Court is supposed to decide the Pennsylvania challenge to the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in July. Having received the judgment for which the right wing prayed for the Court to be packed, the remaining White House pragmatists will doubtless wish to disguise the result from the rest of the public. Therefore July is the month in which the American military will be unleashed on Libya, or Iraq or North Korea. Trial balloons have been floated as to imminent military action under various pretexts in all three cases. With his usual penchant for secrecy, President Butch \(a wonkeep us guessing until the Air Force is actually .dropping bombs on whichever target is chosen for the Summer Surprise. H. Ross is the Spring Surmise. But his season is short, his political demise, however lingering, is imminent; and his attraction is ephemeral at best. I have seen guys my age in suburban D.C. grocery store parking lots handing out “Draft Perot in ’92” bumper stickers for a dollar apiece. But I recall that even when Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith went to Washington in order to bring political reform in the 1930s movies, exhausted by the effort, he collapsed. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23