software and computer service firms show up in the vanguard of campaigns to shore up the economy \(through at least the minimal move of nant position of U.S.-based production in the world economy \(which is closely bound up with the viability of English as the world’s universal So it makes sense that in Texas, Ross Perot was a leader in the effort that brought the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Meyerson, who now runs Perot Systems and helped direct Perot’s Presidential campaign, served for a time as chair of the support committee for the superconducting supercollider, and that when he left the committee, he was succeeded by Tom Luce, Perot’s long-time attorney, and another principal figure in the Presidential campaign. And that a host of Perot philanthropies, such as his vast gifts for biomedical research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas fit clearly into this longterm project. \(Many of these benefactions come with various strings attached, a pattern of doing good and doing well that marks U.S. business as Perot’s most celebrated political initiatives from the early 80s the Texas War on Drugs -which he declared more or less unilaterally following his appointment to a state commission that was expected to do very little, and the remarkable campaign he waged in favor of improving education \(and, if necessary, raising taxes to pay stood against the background of Perot’s professional interest in American stability and competitiveness and his growing anxiety about the direction of public policy. By the mid-1980s, Perot was generalizing his software experience into a broad approach to industrial renewal. In a series of speeches that were completely ignored by analysts in the recent campaign, he laid out a vision of the U.S. economy transformed by intelligent use of computers to replace middle management, restructure work, improve industrial design, and restore manufacturing.His GM experience, however, dashed these hopes for swift success. Though many analysts have ruefully observed how American companies, especially in management and the broader service sector, have astoundingly little to show for their massive investments in office automation, Perot was clearly surprised when he ran into a brick wall of entrenched management and longestab lished social relations. In sharp contrast to most critics, however who, in the case of at least one well known business critic of corporate compensation trends, have had columns canceled by magazines after corporate advertisers complained Perot was a billionaire. The world’s richest mouse decided to roar. At almost the same moment, however, Perot made another discovery. Though this was made in secret and never emerged clearly in the campaign not least because the press refused to ask certain very simple questions it is most unlikely that we have heard the last of it. \(See: p erot’s decision to become an undeclared candidate produced an extraordinary development: American journalists began combing through Presidential papers. While unlikely to become a habit, this search for a usable past was richly rewarded. All sorts of memoranda detailing Perot’s complicated relations with Nixon came to light. Among those that fleetingly captured attention were notes on White House deliberations in response to a question which several memos all attribute to Perot or someone speaking directly for him soon after Nixon took office in 1969: “how could I spend 50 million for you?” \(In the campaign, Perot denied making such offers and claimed that documents like these reflected In its first giddy year in power, the Nixon White House was thinking big. H.R. Haldeman’s notes, for example, record his belief that the administration needed to transcend everyday public relations in favor of intensive efforts “to build up a mythology.” Some of the discussions in which Lynn Nofziger, William Safire, and Patrick Buchanan were intermittent participants, along with many other Nixon operatives whose deeds were, at least, destined to go down in history, if not quite to create a mythology are priceless, notably a proposal to put Perot in touch with Herman Kahn, the putative model for Dr. Strangelove. Gradually, however, the focus narrowed to a few big-ticket items literally beyond the imagination of the great mass of scholarship on the post-war presidency: to help build up a counterweight to the Brookings Institution by pumping money into a small think tank called the American Enterprise Institute, the purchase of the American Broadcasting Company or the Washington Evening Star. All the while Perot, with much help from the White House, was pushing ahead with his campaign to raise the visibility of the P.O.W. issue. Soon after he returned from his famous trip at Christmas time however, Perot broke off the discussions with the White House about the Evening Star and ABC. Instead, Perot explained, in a personal letter to Haldeman of Feb. 24, 1970, he wanted to go forward with another plan ‘about which he knew the administration was much less enthusiastic a scheme for a television series called “American Horizons,” in which selected “experts” were to discuss all \(Perot usually said issues the obvious antecedent to Perot’s famous “electronic town hall.” What is striking is his bluntly stated reason for refusing to collaborate further on the overtly political projects the White House had suggested to him. \(Perot always insisted that the P.O.W. campaign was nonpolitical, and that he would have done the same if Hubert “I cannot be involved with this series, dedicated to presenting a balanced view of national issues, and also be involved with the other activity, without endangering the credibility of the television series….I must decline to be involved in the public relations effort. As a private citizen, I can continue to be involved as an individual in personal efforts to accomplish major goals, such as obtaining the release of the prisoners, but I cannot commit myself irrevocably to the public relations effort without permanently losing the ability to communicate with a substantial portion of the total population.” This fervent aspiration to transcend conventional political labels, while reaching out to That the campaign was striving to lift off the ground on only one wing was certainly responsible for much of the turbulence that rocked it in’ its final days. 8 AUGUST 7, 1992 ;M 141,0
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