very interesting update!The American Presidential Election of 1992: Part One
The board of four moderators sat facing the three candidates. Four older men and one woman, all highly respected journalists. The head moderator was speaking “… as agreed upon by the Perot, Bush and Clinton campaigns, there are no restrictions on the subject matter of the questions. Each candidate will have up to two minutes to make a closing statement, the order was determined by a fair drawing. The first question will go to Perot. The topic is what differentiates each of you from the other.”
“What is the single most defining and separating issue of this campaign?”
“The principal issue in my campaign, is the five and a half million Americans who put me on the ballot. I am not on the ballot on the ticket of any of the parties, and only because my conscious and my desire for a better America motivated me to go forward. As the only candidate immune to the money of lobbyists and special interests, my candidacy is a movement which came from the people. This is the way that the framers of our constitution intended our government to be, a government that comes from the people. Over time we have developed a government that comes at the people, from the top down! With people being treated as objects to be programed during the campaign with commercials and media events with fear messages and personal attacks. In a way, both of my opponents are the same person.”
Ross Perot’s answer struck the audience, and visibly irritated President Bush. Clinton however was not affected. He delivered one of his trademark speeches, punctuated by his charisma. “The most important distinction is that I represent real hope for change. A departure from trickledown economics, a departure from tax and spend economics and from the clear and consistent failures of the president’s failures to confront the fight against freedom occurring across the globe. During his tenure, the cause of democracy has been weakened not strengthened. While I have the absolute respect for the President, and his predecessor, what you have done has not worked. I challenged the American people to change, because we need to change if we want to bring prosperity back to our economy and tyrannical communist despotism on the defensive.”
The President was tense, he suppressed his thoughts about the polls, about how his entire campaign rested on his performance tonight. He felt himself at the cusp of sweating, yet his life as a CIA company man taught him a few tricks, he was not going to be outdone by a hotshot democrat or some insane Texan usurper. However, he had little ammunition, and had to go on the attack immediately. “Well, I think one thing that distinguishes between myself, and my two opponents, is by far and large experience. It is one thing for the Governor of Arkansas and a respectable businessman to criticize my leadership, yet they offer no alternative. The fact is that American people and the American way of life is facing an enemy capable of opposing it at a level that has seldom existed. When I was Vice President, working closely with President Reagan, we were squeezing them, and we know that we were winning. But they adapted, they accepted strongman rule in a desperate attempt to prevent the inevitable triumph of democracy and the freedom of markets. I can guarantee one thing to the American voter, is that if their faith is placed in me, I can and will continue the policies of myself and predecessor, and roll back the Soviet Union.”
The debate proceeded, with Bush and Clinton primarily directing their arguments and energies against each other. Bush hit Clinton for organizing protests against his own country, for being an unpatriotic youth while he served in the Armed Forces. Clinton followed by hammering Bush for unnecessary levels of defense spending, trickledown economics, inefficiencies in the Pentagon and the failure of his foreign intervention in Iraq and inability to maintain the Carter doctrine. Bush responded by pointing out the inconsistency and tried to turn the debate around on Clinton by arguing that while he was talking tough, he was also talking about lowering defensive spending when America needed it most. This was Bush’s high point, as Clinton was forced to get into unnecessary nuance to clarify his statement, which only made him appear weak.
But now it was Ross Perot’s turn.
Ross delivered a sensible chuckle. “The American people can make their own decisions on character; they don’t need their minds made up for them. We have work to do, and we need immediate action. What neither the Republican and Democratic candidate have failed to do is reference the solid data, which demonstrates the direction the American economy is heading with their failed policies. We cannot pay off the four trillion dollar debt, balance the budget without having the revenue. The interventionist policies of my opponents are destroying the economy. What America needs, to face its competitors is to rely on it’s strengths, those being innovation, industry and willingness to develop in the face of adversity, and not on it’s weaknesses getting bogged down in wars that our forefathers would have derided as the foolish waste of lives in conflicts well away from America.”
During the first debate, on October 11th 1992. Both Bush and Clinton initially focused on each other, trading glances and knowing looks when Perot would speak. By the end, they were both pressed, as it was becoming increasingly clear that this man, an independent. Had the capacity to threaten them. On the second debate, Perot hammered both of them on NAFTA, and the great sucking sound of American jobs being sucked out to Mexico and the third world as it’s inevitable result. Bush tried to challenge his foreign policy, asking how a businessman with no political or military experience expected to be able to confront the Soviet Union. In one of the most embarrassing gaffs of the campaign, Perot asked, how did that service serve him? After the second debate, the race was becoming one increasingly between Perot and Clinton.