It Can't Happen Here, Can It?

Jottings in an outsider's political notebook:

1. H. Ross Perot strikes me as a perfect little fascist dictator.

I sense about him nothing more than a haughty, autocratic, overbearing know-it-all. Our flirtation with him as a presidential candidate mirrors our desperation.

A dozen years of Republican rule have made us willing to dismantle our democratic form of government.

Because of our discontent over the self-aggrandizing rule of Bush/Quayle and the McCain/DeConcini/Keating troika, we seem willing to burn down Washington. We seem bent on the installation of a Star Chamber government.

This is terribly wrong-headed. Perot is not the savior he pretends to be; he is closer to the antichrist.

I think that electing Perot president would be like going on a space voyage with Sigourney Weaver and the Aliens.

2. In this political season, some conversational maneuvers have become impossible to avoid.

Try to get through a single hour of an ordinary day without hearing Perot's name. Wherever you turn, friends want to know if you are going to vote for him.

"I'll vote for him," people keep telling me, "because I want to throw absolutely every one of those people in Washington out." This comes from both Republicans and Democrats. The experts tell us this is a fairly common phenomenon in American politics. It's the year of the outsider, they say, pointing to precedents in George Wallace and John Anderson.

But there is a difference. Wallace and Anderson aspired only to the presidency. Perot clearly believes that spending $1 billion of his own money to fund his campaign will entitle him to become the first American Caesar.

3. Here's an iron rule of politics for you. Don't trust any politician who announces he wants to be your servant. "I want to be the people's servant," Perot says over and over again. My God, what a dangerous wacko. He is a candidate straight from hell and the mind of George Orwell.

If Perot ever gets a foot in the front door of the White House, there will be a whole new class of servants. Number yourself among them.

4. Here's an extreme example of Perot's omnipresence: In the middle of the night, I hear a Las Vegas talk show beamed into KTAR-AM. Art Bell, the host, is telling his listeners that Perot has on that very day appeared in Las Vegas.

"Mr. Perot looks, in person, just the way he does on television," Bell says, excitedly. "There was a wonderful turnout and even though it was 107 degrees out there in the sun I found it was worth the wait just to get to see him." A telephone caller wants to know if talk show host Bell was the profusely sweating man in suit and tie wielding a camcorder toward Perot in the press area.

Bell seems pleased to have been recognized by one of his fans.

"Yes," he says proudly. "That was me in the press area. And I wore a suit because I thought it was a proper occasion for one." Perot was in Vegas for a rally celebrating the filing of petitions to qualify him for the ballot. State rules required the gathering of 9,400 names. Perot's supporters came up with 35,000.

A couple of months before, Perot had demanded on CNN's Larry King Live that if people wanted him to run for president they must gather petitions to put him on the ballot as an independent in all 50 states.

To date, Perot has been qualified in 12 states and there seems little doubt his name will eventually be on the ballot in every state.

5. This has been described as an election year dominated by the nation's talk show hosts.

Perot made his first two national appearances on the King show. King is a perfect foil for politicians because he has the heart and soul of a lickspittle. King's idea of great Americans are Frank Sinatra and Tommy Lasorda, the Los Angeles Dodgers manager.

It is King who may well have set the style that dictates that everyone must address this little weasel as "Mr. Perot."

Perot has also appeared before a fawning but scheming Barbara Walters on the ABC news program 20/20 as well as with the largely irrelevant David Frost.

One talk show host who has not fallen under Perot's spell is Rush Limbaugh. I think the reason is obvious. Limbaugh has an ego that is every bit the equal of Perot's.

Limbaugh is heard for three hours each day on KFYI-AM. Reportedly, he's currently the hottest talk show host in America.

Limbaugh talks critically about Perot almost incessantly, certainly every day. Each time Perot's name is mentioned either by Limbaugh or a caller, music in the background plays the tune "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again."

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Tom Fitzpatrick