Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!
The left recognizes Perot’s similarities to Trump but highlights their very different temperaments.
“Both men convinced large numbers of Americans that it was better to have a successful business executive to solve the nation’s problems. Their pitch was that experience in the law, statecraft, diplomacy and government were irrelevant to seeking the highest office in the land — indeed such qualifications were corrupting… H. Ross Perot pioneered the insurgent trail that Trump rode to victory.”
Jon Talton, Seattle Times
“His television platform was Larry King Live, not The Apprentice, and his persona was genial and folksy, not blustery and dark. But more than a quarter century ago, Ross Perot revealed a truth about the American electorate that Donald Trump would exploit: There is a big chunk of voters who feel disaffected, harmed by free trade, threatened by demographic change, and attracted to an eccentric outsider who promises to upend the status quo.”
Todd S. Purdum, The Atlantic
“Perot, like Donald Trump, attracted a lot of disaffected white non-college graduates. A lot of these types of voters would later jump to the Republican Party and power Trump's presidential victory in 2016… [But] to call Perot the first Trump probably doesn't do either man enough justice. Trump's brand of populism is far angrier than Perot's ever was. And Perot dealt with slights differently than Trump. When he was called ‘crazy,’ Perot adopted the song ‘Crazy’ as his ‘campaign song,’ even dancing to it. In this way and many others, Perot was one of a kind.”
Harry Enten, CNN
“Nothing remotely like to the accusations of personal corruption that surround Trump ever arose in connection with the fastidious Perot, a famed/infamous moral scold. Perot was married to the same woman for 62 years and was said to be a loyal, if difficult employer (his company had a ‘moral code’ that prohibited infidelity). Trump is the ultimate symbol of excess; Perot bragged about never owning more than three or four pairs of underpants at a time as a young person… Apart from criticism of NAFTA, a protectionist bent, and a general disdain for the two parties, they didn’t have much in common.”
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
“Many of Mr. Perot’s predictions about Nafta’s impact — notably his claim of the ‘giant sucking sound’ Americans would hear as businesses shuttered operations in the United States — proved either wrong or overstated. Paradoxically, however, his skepticism about lowering trade barriers has proved prescient… The ‘sucking sound’ from Mexico was never really heard, but there certainly was one from China after it entered the World Trade Organization in 2001… [In one study] a group of economists estimated that rising Chinese imports from 1999 to 2011 cost up to 2.4 million American jobs.”
Eduardo Porter, New York Times
“Yes, some will rush to blame Perot for Trump, but I think a cleaner case is to blame the parties for their distance from the voters — a distance, I would suggest, that continues. Perot was never entirely to my taste, but I’m going to miss him. And when I think about his quixotic presidential campaigns, I will always come back to that zinger about how the owners — ‘the people’ — can’t park on Capitol Hill. Go ahead and try to find a space not reserved for the self-important whose salary you pay. You’ll quickly discover how right Perot was; and how little has changed.”
Stephen L. Carter, Bloomberg
“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week
The right lauds Perot and sees him as a precursor to Trump.
The right lauds Perot and sees him as a precursor to Trump.
“Pros laughed at his use of charts and talk of NAFTA’s ‘giant sucking sound’ taking jobs to Mexico, but he won the very voters who’d later be the core Trump constituency. It’s easy to see why: During the ’92 campaign, he groused: ‘Our president blames Congress, Congress blames the president, the Democrats and Republicans blame each other. Nobody steps up to the plate and accepts responsibility for anything.’ Ross Perot the outsider still has a point. Rest in peace.”
Editorial Board, New York Post
“When you look closely at Perot’s campaigns, you see his influence everywhere ever since. His populist attitude against Washington informed the Gingrich-led Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. His fondness for plain-spoken fiscal rectitude popped up again in Al Gore’s Social Security ‘lock box’ and later in the Tea Party. And of course, Perot now looks like the Morning Star of Trumpism… Like Perot, President Trump is also a billionaire populist and a trade protectionist. Trump appeals to the same secular, nationalist voters that were Perot’s base. But Trump also appealed to and made pacts with all the factions of the Republican party.”
Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review
“Perot’s allergy to social conservatives was one of the things that would doom his populism… Trump, like Perot, campaigned as something of a moderate on social issues — but he did so without excluding social conservatives, and since becoming president he has served his coalition allies better than many a professed true-believer conservative Republican ever did. Trump also realized, as Perot should have recognized a quarter-century earlier, that third-party politics was a waste of time, when the same resources could be used to take over the GOP from within.”
Daniel McCarthy, Spectator USA
“From the perspective of 2019, H. Ross Perot looks like a key precursor to Trump: the billionaire political outsider who popped up on Larry King Live, opposed free trade deals, and who spoke bluntly and simply and promised to just roll up his sleeves and look under the hood. But there were some key differences. Perot worried about the deficit — ‘the crazy aunt in the basement’ and about the debt — back when it was a ‘mere’ $5 trillion. He supported means-testing Social Security. His policy interests were not wide but he knew enough about them to give lectures with charts. Perot was feisty but rarely obnoxious.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review
“What stood out for me about Perot was his raging moderation. Unlike most angry candidates running a populist campaign, Perot was a pragmatist, not an ideologue, and basically a centrist — more so, anyway than his two opponents (which is why Team Bush was wrong, I think, to claim that Perot cost Bush the election; studies have shown that Perot took about as many votes away from Clinton as he did from Bush)… Trump’s political genius, or one aspect of it, was his realization that he could capture the Republican presidential nomination and, eventually, the Republican Party. I wonder how Perot would have fared if he had tried to do the same.”
Paul Mirengoff, Power Line Blog
“After Republicans lost in 2012, failing to retake the White House and actually losing Senate seats despite a sagging Obama-era economy, two prominent analyses were proposed. One — the Republican National Committee’s ‘autopsy’ — said the GOP’s problem was embracing social issues too much and liberal immigration too little. The other analysis — the ‘Missing White Voter’ thesis — was grounded in actual data. It said the problem was that the GOP of the Bush family and Mitt Romney had turned off working-class whites to the point that they disengaged. Put another way, the GOP establishment in 2012 said the party could win by becoming more like George H.W. Bush; the deeper analysis said it could win if it became more like Ross Perot…
“Ross Perot didn’t ‘give us Trump.’ But he gave us an insight into what America was really like. It just took 20 years for someone to put that insight to use.”
Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner
Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…
“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review
“President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner
A libertarian's take
“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…
“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason
Dozens of costumed T. rex race on a horse track in a delightfully bizarre video.