Hand Grenade with a Bad Haircut: Ross Perot Dead at 89

 

H. Ross Perot, the man who could have been America’s first Independent President, died today at age 89. When he ran in 1992 against the incumbent George H.W. Bush and the Democratic Party nominee Bill Clinton he received 19% of the popular vote, the highest since Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose bid in 1912.

An Annapolis graduate, he was a pioneer in computer data systems, twice building companies and twice selling them to make his fortune. And he was generous with his money while being appalled at the government’s generosity with the money of taxpayers. A special cause of his was the medical care of veterans. He personally funded the research of Dr. Robert Haley at UT Southwestern that showed that many vets of the first Gulf War did, indeed, suffer from a chemical-induced toxin syndrome.

He will be remembered for his first presidential run which he announced on Larry King’s talk show on CNN. Talking about the nation’s problems in a folksy manner, particularly the deficit and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), he promised to run if supporters would self-mobilize and get his name on the ballot in all 50 states, which they did.

By June he was leading in the polls with 39%. (Bush was at 31% and Clinton at 25%.) Then he abruptly quit, claiming that Bush’s dirty tricks operatives were trying to disrupt his daughter’s wedding. He returned in October but it damaged his chances greatly. He would win no electoral votes and the best showing he had was 2nd place in Maine.

His lasting legacy from that race is adding the phrase “giant sucking sound” to the political lexicon. In the second presidential debate with Bush and Clinton, he was the only candidate opposed to NAFTA.

“We have got to stop sending jobs overseas,” he warned. “It’s pretty simple: If you’re paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for factory workers and you can move your factory South of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor, … have no health care—that’s the most expensive single element in making a car— have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement, and you don’t care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound going south.

“… when [Mexico’s] jobs come up from a dollar an hour to six dollars an hour, and ours go down to six dollars an hour, and then it’s leveled again. But in the meantime, you’ve wrecked the country with these kinds of deals.”

If he had won that race, many of President Trump’s problems may have paled in comparison. He would have been completely alone with absolute zero of the party support structure that presidents of all stripes lean on. He would probably have leaned heavily on his business organization which would have opened him up to even more criticism.

During that race in 1992, Rush Limbaugh tagged him with the nickname of “A Hand Grenade with a Bad Haircut” and loved to regale his audience with tales of Perot’s eccentricities. One particular favorite surrounded the true story of Perot buying his childhood home in Texarkana. He was disappointed that a subsequent owner had painted the bricks white and that an attempt to sandblast the paint off was ineffective because of the porous nature of the material. He then paid to have every brick chiseled out of the walls, turned paint-side in and re-cemented in place.

Among his other eccentricities, he literally buried his father. When Ross was in the Navy his father suffered a heart attack and Perot was given leave to go home. When the elder Perot passed, Ross picked up a shovel and went down to the cemetery and dug the plot out himself and filled it in after the funeral service. He explained years later to The New York Times, “I buried him myself ’cause that’s the last thing I could do for him.”

He was an American character. Ferociously patriotic, he believed in the America of Norman Rockwell’s paintings. And he lived it out to the fullest.

Published in Politics
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There are 43 comments.

  1. 1
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  1. Miffed White Male Member

    It’s too bad he was nuts.

     

    • #1
    • July 9, 2019, at 9:08 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. EB Thatcher
    EB

    When I lived in Dallas, I discovered that everyone loved his wife and everyone didn’t love him.

    Every positive trait or story was, at a minimum, balanced with equal negatives. A large portion of the stories about his stellar salesmanship/entrepreneurship were mostly hype and sometimes outright fabrications.

    His ego in getting back into the election, handed the presidency to Clinton. I really could never forgive him for that.

    • #2
    • July 9, 2019, at 9:15 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  3. Percival Thatcher

    My first exposure to H. Ross Perot was via Ken Follett’s non-fiction book On Wings of EaglesSome of his employees were arrested and held for ransom by the revolutionary government of Iran. Perot tried to pay the ransom, but when that deal fell through, he resorted to other means.

    Whatever his qualities as a president might have been, Ross Perot was the kind of boss you would want to have if you get jammed up in some foreign poop-hole of a country.

    • #3
    • July 9, 2019, at 9:28 AM PDT
    • 17 likes
  4. Vance Richards Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    My first exposure to H. Ross Perot was via Ken Follett’s non-fiction book On Wings of Eagles. Some of his employees were arrested and held for ransom by the revolutionary government of Iran. Perot tried to pay the ransom, but when that deal fell through, he resorted to other means.

    Whatever his qualities as a president might have been, Ross Perot was the kind of boss you would want to have if you get jammed up in some foreign poop-hole of a country.

    Unfortunately, the folks at the US embassy had a very different type of boss.

    • #4
    • July 9, 2019, at 9:34 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  5. Kevin Schulte Member

    He was correct about NAFTA.

     

    • #5
    • July 9, 2019, at 9:46 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  6. Tex929rr Coolidge

    In 1987 my fire department responded to a huge flood disaster in adjacent Comfort, TX. 10 kids died when a church camp bus washed off of a bridge (one has never been recovered). A few days into the recovery operation Perot showed up and offered massive financial and other assistance; he asked for it to be kept completely quiet. As much as he drove me crazy about politics he was righteous about helping people.

    • #6
    • July 9, 2019, at 9:49 AM PDT
    • 18 likes
  7. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    EJHill:

    His lasting legacy from that race is adding the phrase “giant sucking sound” to the political lexicon. In the second presidential debate with Bush and Clinton, he was the only candidate opposed to NAFTA:

    “We have got to stop sending jobs overseas,” he warned…

    Um, I do so hate to quibble, but NAFTA didn’t send any American jobs over any sea.

    ;-)

    • #7
    • July 9, 2019, at 10:09 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  8. Judge Mental Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    EJHill:

    His lasting legacy from that race is adding the phrase “giant sucking sound” to the political lexicon. In the second presidential debate with Bush and Clinton, he was the only candidate opposed to NAFTA:

    “We have got to stop sending jobs overseas,” he warned…

    Um, I do so hate to quibble, but NAFTA didn’t send any American jobs over any sea.

    ;-)

    You love to quibble.

    • #8
    • July 9, 2019, at 10:32 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  9. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    EJHill:

    His lasting legacy from that race is adding the phrase “giant sucking sound” to the political lexicon. In the second presidential debate with Bush and Clinton, he was the only candidate opposed to NAFTA:

    “We have got to stop sending jobs overseas,” he warned…

    Um, I do so hate to quibble, but NAFTA didn’t send any American jobs over any sea.

    ;-)

    You love to quibble.

    • #9
    • July 9, 2019, at 10:36 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Judge Mental Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    EJHill:

    His lasting legacy from that race is adding the phrase “giant sucking sound” to the political lexicon. In the second presidential debate with Bush and Clinton, he was the only candidate opposed to NAFTA:

    “We have got to stop sending jobs overseas,” he warned…

    Um, I do so hate to quibble, but NAFTA didn’t send any American jobs over any sea.

    ;-)

    You love to quibble.

    I know. But it still needed to be said.

    • #10
    • July 9, 2019, at 10:43 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    EJHill:

    His lasting legacy from that race is adding the phrase “giant sucking sound” to the political lexicon. In the second presidential debate with Bush and Clinton, he was the only candidate opposed to NAFTA:

    “We have got to stop sending jobs overseas,” he warned…

    Um, I do so hate to quibble, but NAFTA didn’t send any American jobs over any sea.

    ;-)

    You love to quibble.

    I know. But it still needed to be said.

    • #11
    • July 9, 2019, at 10:51 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. Mark Camp Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    EJHill:

    His lasting legacy from that race is adding the phrase “giant sucking sound” to the political lexicon. In the second presidential debate with Bush and Clinton, he was the only candidate opposed to NAFTA:

    “We have got to stop sending jobs overseas,” he warned…

    Um, I do so hate to quibble, but NAFTA didn’t send any American jobs over any sea.

    ;-)

    You love to quibble.

    I know. But it still needed to be said.

    Now, kids. If I have to stop the car…

    Why don’t we do this: Judge, you can have the last word this time, and Mis., you can have it next time.

    • #12
    • July 9, 2019, at 11:28 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  13. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    EJHill:

    His lasting legacy from that race is adding the phrase “giant sucking sound” to the political lexicon. In the second presidential debate with Bush and Clinton, he was the only candidate opposed to NAFTA:

    “We have got to stop sending jobs overseas,” he warned…

    Um, I do so hate to quibble, but NAFTA didn’t send any American jobs over any sea.

    ;-)

    You love to quibble.

    I know. But it still needed to be said.

    Now, kids. If I have to stop the car…

    Why don’t we do this: Judge, you can have the last word this time, and Mis., you can have it next time.

    • #13
    • July 9, 2019, at 11:33 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    Hijacking an obituary? Really? 

    • #14
    • July 9, 2019, at 11:37 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  15. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Hijacking an obituary? Really?

    • #15
    • July 9, 2019, at 11:59 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Barfly Member

    So he was right about everything – big deal. He still gave us Bill Clinton.

    • #16
    • July 9, 2019, at 12:05 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Barfly (View Comment):

    So he was right about everything – big deal. He still gave us Bill Clinton.

    And a Republican House.

    • #17
    • July 9, 2019, at 12:49 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Arahant Member

    I worked for EDS. ’nuff said.

    • #18
    • July 9, 2019, at 12:54 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. Arahant Member

    Although, adding to the “quirks” list, every system that EDS made while Ross owned the company was capable of handling first initial and middle name, rather than only first name and middle initial.

    RIP, Ross.

    • #19
    • July 9, 2019, at 12:56 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  20. Barfly Member

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    He was correct about NAFTA.

     

    Yes he was, and about a few other important things. What he was not right about was the conceit that his 3rd party candidacy could ever deliver on any of them. 

    As big a disappointment as GHWB was, he wasn’t a danger to the Republic. If Ross Perot couldn’t win the Republican primary, then he should have shut up and supported the nominee.

    EB (View Comment):
    His ego in getting back into the election, handed the presidency to Clinton. I really could never forgive him for that.

    Me neither. Perot’s foray into presidential politics is a cautionary tale.

    • #20
    • July 9, 2019, at 2:03 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  21. Mark Camp Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Since the invention of today, there have been but three great Richochet chortles*. This one left them all behind.

    *Boss Mongo said something really funny this morning in Things I Learned (he was playing the role of Boss Mongo and no one does it better), and whoever responded to it got me again.

    • #21
    • July 9, 2019, at 2:19 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Mark Camp Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Hijacking an obituary? Really?

    They started it.

    (Sorry, Ross and kin. Ross, you were a real American.)

    • #22
    • July 9, 2019, at 2:22 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Barfly (View Comment):

    So he was right about everything – big deal. He still gave us Bill Clinton.

    George H.W. Bush spitting in our faces and telling us it was sunshine gave us Bill Clinton. Period.

    But for whatever actually happened around his daughter, Perot may well have held his lead and given the Republican establishment a badly needed beating, perhaps generating something like the Tea Party movement in the midterms.

    • #23
    • July 9, 2019, at 2:28 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  24. JoelB Member

    The Republican’s fear of Trump being another Perot led to the loyalty oath that all would support the nominee. When Trump got the nomination, the others did not like it so much.

    • #24
    • July 9, 2019, at 2:39 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  25. Kevin Schulte Member

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    He was correct about NAFTA.

     

    Yes he was, and about a few other important things. What he was not right about was the conceit that his 3rd party candidacy could ever deliver on any of them.

    As big a disappointment as GHWB was, he wasn’t a danger to the Republic. If Ross Perot couldn’t win the Republican primary, then he should have shut up and supported the nominee.

    EB (View Comment):
    His ego in getting back into the election, handed the presidency to Clinton. I really could never forgive him for that.

    Me neither. Perot’s foray into presidential politics is a cautionary tale.

    I felt the same way as EB and Barfly for many years. The thing that many years did for me was perspective.

    Serious question . If GHWB had won that election, can you honestly say the country would not have been ratcheted any less left than it is today ? My answer is, No!

    Accept for a generation thinking a BJ was not sex, there wouldn’t of been a dimes difference in the two administrations. 

     

    • #25
    • July 9, 2019, at 2:49 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Arahant Member

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    Serious question . If GHWB had won that election, can you honestly say the country would not have been ratcheted any less left than it is today ? My answer is, No!

    Accept for a generation thinking a BJ was not sex, there wouldn’t of been a dimes difference in the two administrations. 

    Disagree. Newt and the Contract with America probably would not have happened under GHWB. “Clinton” did things like reforming welfare because he had a powerful Republican Congress.

    • #26
    • July 9, 2019, at 3:14 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  27. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    Serious question . If GHWB had won that election, can you honestly say the country would not have been ratcheted any less left than it is today ? My answer is, No!

    Accept for a generation thinking a BJ was not sex, there wouldn’t of been a dimes difference in the two administrations.

    Disagree. Newt and the Contract with America probably would not have happened under GHWB. “Clinton” did things like reforming welfare because he had a powerful Republican Congress.

    And that’s why Perot was a good thing. I remember the days when it was unthinkable that the Republicans could actually control the House. ’94 changed it all and control of the House was finally opened to both parties and it hotly contested every two years. Never would have happened if Bush reelected. And from 94 to 98 it worked pretty well with an R Congress and a chastened Bill Clinton (one big difference between Bill and Barack, is it was impossible to chasten Barack – he didn’t change course after 2010) before the GOP decided to get stupid about Lewinsky.

    • #27
    • July 9, 2019, at 3:34 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  28. Arahant Member

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):
    And that’s why Perot was a good thing.

    The Bible verse that comes to mind is Genesis 50:20.

    • #28
    • July 9, 2019, at 3:43 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):
    And that’s why Perot was a good thing.

    The Bible verse that comes to mind is Genesis 50:20.

    A good one!

    • #29
    • July 9, 2019, at 3:46 PM PDT
    • Like
  30. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):

    Serious question . If GHWB had won that election, can you honestly say the country would not have been ratcheted any less left than it is today ? My answer is, No!

    Accept for a generation thinking a BJ was not sex, there wouldn’t of been a dimes difference in the two administrations.

    Disagree. Newt and the Contract with America probably would not have happened under GHWB. “Clinton” did things like reforming welfare because he had a powerful Republican Congress.

    And that’s why Perot was a good thing. I remember the days when it was unthinkable that the Republicans could actually control the House. ’94 changed it all and control of the House was finally opened to both parties and it hotly contested every two years. Never would have happened if Bush reelected. And from 94 to 98 it worked pretty well with an R Congress and a chastened Bill Clinton (one big difference between Bill and Barack, is it was impossible to chasten Barack – he didn’t change course after 2010) before the GOP decided to get stupid about Lewinsky.

    I’m not so sure the GOP was stupid about Lewinsky. When the news of the dress first broke a dedicated Clinton loving friend said to me “if it’s true he’ll have to resign”. But then the left went into massive fight mode and weathered the storm. And don’t forget the role of “centrists” like Arlen Specter. Clinton changed the rules, forever. In fact, Clinton enabled Trump. Must make HRC wake up and throw lamps, again.

    • #30
    • July 9, 2019, at 3:51 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
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