the broadest possible audience, throws valuable light on Perot’s still unexplained withdrawal from the presidential race, before the campaign had aired even one commercial and in a situation in which no prediction about the outcome was worth much. For if one looks closely, Perot, the ardent foe of political parties, had in fact been carefully waging a campaign that was less antipartisan than bipartisan. What might be termed his “Noah’s Ark” strategy aimed to balance off Republican endorsements with Democratic pledges of allegiance, overtures to one side with openings to the other, and so forth. Most obviously visible in the famously non-identical twins he hired to advise \(they Hamilton Jordan, such tactics were in fact the campaign’s hallmark. The problem, which was acute by the time of the Democratic Convention, was that the strategy was failing. Some business figures with fairly clear associations with the Democrats made widely touted moves in Perot’s direction: A.C. Greenberg of Bear, Stearns; Rohaytn \(who was very coy about whether he would actuFisher; and Thomas Barr of the Cravath, Swaine and Moore law firm.But virtually all of these had past ties to Perot. Rohaytn formerly sat on the board of EDS; Fisher had married into a prominent Dallas family with Perot in attendance; Greenberg, according to Fortune,, was another outspoken and long-time admirer of the Texan. Cravath represented Perot. \(A number of Barr’s partners also enlisted, including the managing partner of the famous firm. This depth of commitment is unusual, and it may be worth bearing in mind that in 1990 the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation offered Cravath a contract worth up to $100 million for assistance in untangling bank failures. After various members of Congress, along with other law firms, complained loudly, the contract was modified. This spring six senators called for renegotiation of the modified contract. William Seidman, head of the FDIC at the time it entered into the agreement, had in the meantime been ousted by President Bush and was prominently prominent Democratic leaders with valuable organizational ties hung back: Jesse Jackson, with whom Perot had been involved before in foreign policy ventures and the GM affair; several union leaders; Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn; and various other liberal Democrats. Just before the Democratic Convention, Perot had an extended conversation with Paul Tsongas. Their meeting produced praise for Perot from the former Massachusetts Senator, but no endorsement. In sharp contrast, supply side Republicans disenchanted with Bush flocked to Perot’s standard, including Theodore Forstmann and Jude Wanniski. Rollins also hinted broadly that a number of top former Reagan advisors were only waiting for the proper moment to make an endorsement. 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. Perot was probably sym pathetic to the supply siders opinions on capital gains tax reduction, and whatever his real views on raising taxes, he was assuredly preparing to embrace gigantic reportedly around $500 billion over five years spending cuts as the main way to balance the budget. On the other hand, his key insight into the need to make corporate managers responsible for corporate performance, though echoed in some recent “shareholder rights” proposals, is not an idea supply siders promote, especially in public. Neither, obviously, is government intervention in industries, in the style of the “organized capitalism” of Germany or Japan, which clearly intrigued Perot. \(I cannot refrain from observing that however noble the intentions of its promoters, absent a real welfare state and powerful trade unions, the only feature of the Japanese economy such proposals are guaranteed to reproduce in America is the level of of allowing banks to take equity positions in other companies or his opposition to the Mexican Free Trade Agreement positions that would endear him to supply siders, though some were confident that they could eventually turn him around in regard to the latter. The supply siders were correct, however, that Perot’s preferred forms of government intervention did not include tariffs in general. In 1987, he had specifically cautioned against the penalty duties slapped on Toshiba. At several points in the campaign, he also declined to run against the Japanese, when it would ‘have been easy to pick up some of Buchanan’s support by doing so. However, when Perot, influenced by by Pat Choate, a prominent critic of Japanese and other foreign lobbying, promised to tighten laws on foreign lobbying, he probably meant it. When another maverick billionaire, Howard Hughes, discovered the airplane of his dreams, the famous Spruce Goose, couldn’t stay airborne for more than a few minutes, he flew it to a nearby dock and left it moored there, never to fly again. Ross Perot, whose comparative advantage as a leader rested as he said repeatedly to skeptical auditors nervous about his bull in the china shop reputation on the creation of effective teams, and who for twenty-odd years had aspired to reach out beyond a single party, was now coming to grips with the fact that society is not like a company, which can recruit selectively. As he prepared to release an economic plan calling for draconian \(and in my judgment, quite uncalled for, but that is another political movement that was maturing with only one wing, but which would still drain off at least $90 million more in campaign expenses, it is easy to understand why he decided to park his Spruce Goose and walk away. If it pained him that America wasn’t buying his plans for its industrial renewal, still he could console himself that he was splendidly hedged. Earlier this spring a Japanese news service carried several items on Perot. One described his new company’s joint venture with Japan’s foremost personal computer software distributor. The other discussed the Perot Group’s purchase of an airstrip left behind at Subic Bay, the former U.S. base in the Philippines now being abandoned. In much the same way as he approached the Alliance Airport project the now-famous commercial airport Perot is building, with much help from the government, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the Texan is reported to be laying plans for a major project involving an airport and a highway to Manila, while other companies \(in this case, seven of the nine largest Japanese trading comchase of, adjacent land for their own operations. Walt Disney is also said to be interested in building another Disney Land in the same area. Particularly with the cloud that now hangs over Hong Kong, Perot’s latest undertaking promises to preserve Perot Systems, if not the United States, as a major Pacific power for the indefinite future. For ordinary, unhedged Americans, of course, the outlook is, inevitably, more clouded. For good reasons or bad, many were skeptical of Ross Perot. Indeed, more than a few, while listening to The Stars and Stripes Forever at his campaign rallies, were sure that they were really hearing Richard Wagner. In the future, however, their musical discrimination is likely to sharpen. Given where the major parties are clearly headed in this campaign, Ross Perot, the center-right billionaire who wanted to run his crusade with both a left and a right wing, will not be the last White Knight to come down the gridlocked pike. And whoever comes next you will probably like even less. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9 NOTICE TO SUBSCRIBERS Effective with this issue the one-year subscription price which has remained $27 since 1987increases to $32. The special one-year rate for full-time students goes to $18. Others who may find it impossible to pay the full $32 should let us know at renewal time. Many Observer subscribers who can afford it renew at more than the going rate and designate the excess for our Gift Fund account. These contributions allow us, depending on the condition of Fund, to extend or partially underwrite the subscriptions of other loyal readers who might be financially burdened more severely than the rest of us. ! Y-y…mer,
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