Perot: As Good as It's Going to Get
Jude Wanniski
July 7, 1992


The Establishment campaign to turn Ross Perot into a Fascist has been taking its toll. Pete DuPont's op-ed in today's New York Times warns: "Conservatives: Beware Perot -- He's a Fan of Big Government." The material is absolute bunk, stitching together wisps of various Perot comments from a variety of sources, spinning them into a Mussolini yarn. DuPont tells us that Perot favors an "industrial policy," even though he acknowledges that Perot denies he favors an industrial policy. He tells us Perot is a "protectionist" because he opposes the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Mexico at the moment. He says Perot wants to raise taxes, although Perot rules out new taxes unless the United States finds itself in a war. Finally, he says we should be "scared to death" that Perot actually advises those industries that are being decimated by recession to "get some clout and go to Washington" to seek relief.

Indeed, most of you share these concerns about Perot, having been subjected to the propaganda war being waged against him, mainly by the Bush Administration and the Bush campaign. This followed an explicit decision within the Bush campaign to paint Perot as a fascist. Not only is Perot not a fascist, he is the most important anti-fascist figure to appear on the American political scene in my lifetime. He actually favors giving voters the right to vote on issues through a national referendum process. This is as "democratic" as a person can be -- and a democrat is the exact opposite of a fascist. Pete DuPont, who has probably been spending too much time inside the Beltway, complains that Perot "wants the voters to be able to pass a tax increase by plebiscite, never mind that the Constitution gives that power to Congress." Horrors!

The term "fascist" was coined in 1919 in Italy to describe a political philosophy that its proponents thought would be more democratic than a monarchy but more elitist than a republic. The Ruling Class would at least operate within a democratic framework. The term has an ugly connotation today because it was adopted by Mussolini and Hitler, who dispensed with the democratic framework. It actually had a positive connotation well into the 1930s and was in spirit the foundation of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal -- which would try to solve the nation's economic problems with a Brain Trust meshed with active government agencies. The stock market crash, you see, had demonstrated that laissez-faire did not work.

If one thinks of a pyramid of power, the Brain Trust at the top and the ordinary people at the foundation, we find Perot recommending a form of governance where the Bright Ideas of the Brain Trust have to be ratified by the entire pyramid before they can be pushed upon the ordinary people. Such a system does not now exist. But the fact that Perot thinks systematically along these lines enables us to better understand what kind of President he would be. He is most assuredly not a "Fan of Big Government." If Big Government would work, after all, there would be no need for Ross Perot to get so involved as a private citizen with the return of Vietnam MIA's, the health care of Vietnam veterans, the rescue of hostages in Iran, or this presidential race for that matter. He is, though, not necessarily a "Fan of Small Government." An efficient Big Government is preferable to an inefficient Small Government, but all government must serve the people.

The two political parties of the Ruling Class now sit astride the pyramid of power almost completely detached from the ordinary people at the bottom of the pile. The Democratic Party has become a caricature of itself. At the convention next week, it will nominate a man who believes in absolutely nothing but the political ladder and who will say anything he's told in order to climb it. He has adopted a scrofulous tax-and-spend economic platform that is itself a Keynesian caricature. The party's only hope of winning with this miserable combination is if Ross Perot and George Bush divide the "conservative vote" and it keeps the moth-eaten New Deal coalition together for one more election, which means keeping an uppity Jesse Jackson from leading his followers off the welfare plantation to Ross Perot. 
The Republican Party next month will nominate a man who is rapidly approaching single digits in his approval rating as President. His re-election plan consists of trying to persuade the voters that Ross Perot is a fascist and of having Vice President Quayle lecture the lower classes on the virtues of virtue. Note The New York Times cover story last Sunday. It reports on the shrewdness of the Vice President's strategy of leading the President's re-election efforts, stressing family values and conservative cultural engineering. (The story notes that since he began this shrewd strategy, his personal approval rating has soared to 20% from 33%!! The White House is reportedly so jealous of the Veep getting all this ink that the President has co-opted the issue as his own and is now also lecturing the lower classes on the virtue of virtue.) Our nation's capital buzzes with rumors that Barbara Bush has made her husband promise to drop out of the running if his approval rating sinks below 5%.

If you think these sardonic comments are made to convey the impression that Perot may still win in November, you are absolutely right. Indeed, I continue to believe that Perot will win handsomely, not only because his competition is so weak, but because a majority of voters will realize this guy will be a good President.

I'm told, by some of my political friends, that I'm the only Reaganaut they know who actually believes Perot would be a good President. There are others who are "for him" because they've given up on the President and dislike Governor Clinton. I'm actually looking forward to a Perot Presidency, believing at his worst he may be better than what we have today. He may yet shock me by choosing a bozo as Vice President or a hack as Treasury Secretary. So far, though, I'm impressed with the people who he has attracted to his side and the people to whom he is attracted.

This morning in Dallas, for example, it was reported that Perot's campaign coordinator on foreign policy is a fellow named Richard W. Fisher, whom I have gotten to know just recently via my interest in Perot's candidacy. Fisher had been executive assistant to Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal in the Carter Administration, when he was still in his 20s. He's since made his fortune as a Dallas businessman, trading in the international capital markets. There is nobody in the Nick Brady Treasury Department -- NOBODY -- who is as competent as Fisher in matters related to global financial markets.

Last week, I sent him a copy of David Goldman's advance on the Munich economic summit, which he thought was "especially brilliant." This week, Nick Brady in Munich continues to badmouth the U.S. dollar in his attempts to drive down the trade deficit. It's an "export world" we live in, says Brady, pushing the Bundesbank and Bank of Japan to appreciate their currencies and bashing the Fed to lower interest rates again. When his blatherings hit the broad tape earlier this afternoon, the Dow got instantly creamed. How can the world's only superpower have such a schmoe at Treasury?

My encouragement came in a note from Perot's Mr. Fisher, who gives me permission to quote him: "Personally, I have never accepted the thesis that an ever-depreciating dollar is attractive. In my book, dollar depreciation: 1) is not the silver bullet answer to export expansion (Japan and Germany have done rather well despite appreciating currencies); 2) makes no sense for a capital importing country. Who wants to invest in a country that pays back in depreciated currency?; 3) is inflationary; 4) is demoralizing; 5) in the final analysis is a cheap Keynesian trick, with short-term benefits achieved at long-term cost. A Perot Administration would not hide behind an ever-depreciating dollar. I cannot see Ross sending his Secretary of the Treasury to G-5 meetings to plead for a stronger DM and yen [emphasis added]."

Look, folks, I know you are worried sick about the elections, given the choices available. We hear your hands wringing hour by hour. There will be so many ups and downs between now and November 3 that I suggest you lay in a stock of Dramamine. It's going to be okay, though. Pete DuPont is wrong. Perot is not an industrial-planning, fascist, protectionist taxer. He may not be exactly what you want, but he's as good as it's going to get. You'll see. I promise.