The real Capital Capers

It should have been a cartoon idea in this newspaper, but debates between billionaire Ross Perot and Vice President Al Gore are threatening to make it a reality.

The White House, fearing defeat of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) scheduled three debates between the billion-dollar savior of the working class and the wooden Vice President (both in personality and priorities).

The debates were poor strategy on the part of the White House and show just how desperate the administration is to salvage NAFTA.

The Tuesday night debate demonstrated why this strategy is a mistake. While Gore defeated Perot with good arguments, Perot was the real winner because the debate was well hyped and Perot’s message reached more people than it ordinarily would have.

Perot is a populist, and the longer he stays in the spotlight, and the more opportunities he has to directly address the administration, the stronger he will be.

The debates themselves are a Perot victory, because they show that his criticisms are getting under the skin of the administration. The debates also give Perot high publicity and more legitimacy as a political leader in America. The fact is that Perot’s popularity was fading.

What’s disturbing about the debates is the fact that Perot apparently has enough credibility and clout with the American people that the administration feels it has to send the vice president forth to defeat and discredit him.

Perot, the demagogue, is apt at playing off people’s fears to garner support for himself and his position. In debates he doesn’t discuss issues or facts, he aims to persuade people by scaring them.

Perot has never stopped running for president. He portrays himself as a political outsider, yet he built much of his fortune through government contracts, a fact he has apparently forgotten.

Perot criticized lobbyists in the last election, but the truth is, he himself was a very effective Washington lobbyist.

The quicker Perot and his exploiting ways fade from the political scene, the better off this country will be. The Clinton administration shot themselves in the foot by agreeing to the debates.