Texas born. Texas bred. When I die, I'll be Texas dead. Ha!
July 9, 2019 12:21 PM   Subscribe

Henry Ray Perot, later "Ross" in honor of a brother who passed away as a toddler, has passed away at age 89 after a five-month battle with leukemia. While most know him from his 1992 presidential bid wherein he had the largest third-party showing since the Bull Moose Party, he is also less known as the primary funder of NeXT Computer (where Steve Jobs landed after being fired from Apple, and where elements of iOS and macOS were developed). Perot's own words in a 2016 Dallas News interview: "Texas born. Texas bred. When I die, I'll be Texas dead. Ha!"
posted by WCityMike (53 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
His obituary should be a chart.
posted by srboisvert at 12:30 PM on July 9 [49 favorites]


He should be remembered for expressing and appealing authentically to honest-to-goodness economic anxiety in 1992, and doing it without casting aspersions at the dignity of any nation.
posted by ocschwar at 12:33 PM on July 9 [13 favorites]


He should be remembered for convincing people that the problem with America was the deficit and regulations instead of the billionaire class he was a part of.
posted by gwint at 12:40 PM on July 9 [81 favorites]


Bloom County having firmly established the fecklessness of Democrats for me, I was a big Perot fan in 1992.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:43 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Couldn't help liking that guy a little bit, no matter how much I disagreed with him.

At some point after he ran for President, it crossed my mind to wonder whether he'd been part of the inspiration for Ferengis; he was enough in the news in 1987 (the year Ferengis made their first appearance) with claims that we'd left a bunch of American POWs in the hands of the Vietnamese at the end of the war, but his ears didn't seem as big then as they did later, so probably not.
posted by jamjam at 12:46 PM on July 9 [6 favorites]


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posted by Cash4Lead at 12:46 PM on July 9


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posted by mfoight at 12:47 PM on July 9


He should be remembered for expressing and appealing authentically to honest-to-goodness economic anxiety in 1992, and doing it without casting aspersions at the dignity of any nation.

I've worked for companies where IT departments (and their attendant jobs) were outsourced and offshored to Perot Systems. Giant sucking sound, indeed.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:48 PM on July 9 [3 favorites]


I remember when he called the designer of the Vietnam War Memorial, Maya Lin, an "eggroll". Not a fan.
posted by cazoo at 12:49 PM on July 9 [34 favorites]


I always thought he won the election for William Jefferson Clinton. He siphoned off enough votes from George Herbert Walker Bush coupled with the watch my lips, "No new taxes" pledge of GHWB to give Clinton the win.

RIP Ross Perot.
posted by AugustWest at 12:58 PM on July 9 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I always suspected that as well, but it sounds like that's far from settled. From the NYT obit:
On Election Day, Mr. Perot finished with 19 percent of the popular vote — almost 20 million ballots — compared with 38 percent for Mr. Bush and 43 percent for Mr. Clinton. It was the strongest third-party showing since Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose run in 1912.

It also led to claims by some Republicans, including the president’s son and future president George W. Bush, that Mr. Perot’s candidacy had cost President Bush a second term — a contention refuted by many political analysts, who pointed to, among other things, exit polls showing that Mr. Perot’s strength had not come disproportionately from defecting Republicans.
posted by gwint at 1:01 PM on July 9 [4 favorites]


He passed on buying Microsoft in 1979.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:03 PM on July 9


He was the founder of tech company EDS, who laid off both my brother and his wife in their late 50s.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:04 PM on July 9 [8 favorites]


He may have had his flaws, like any man, but he had giant ears and was kind of a weirdo, and that was enough for him to win my elementary school's version of the 1992 election in a landslide.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:08 PM on July 9 [20 favorites]


A bit of presidential party pedantry: Perot ran as an independent in 1992, unaffiliated with any party. As such, he had the best showing for an unaffiliated candidate since George Washington in 1792.

The election of 1996 was when he ran on the Reform Party ticket, which he had founded the previous year.
posted by theory at 1:09 PM on July 9 [4 favorites]




Perot was a big supporter of House Bill 72 in Texas, known as "No Pass, No Play", which required (among other things) that you had to pass classes to participate in extra-curricular activities. In football-mad Texas, this was a very big deal and some powerhouse football high schools got crushed by this.

I didn't vote for Perot and didn't like everything about him, but he was behind HB 72 and I appreciated him for that.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:17 PM on July 9 [20 favorites]


Meh. A classic case of “he was still alive?”
posted by spitbull at 1:19 PM on July 9 [9 favorites]


He should be remembered for his tenure as the Six Flags Guy.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:38 PM on July 9 [8 favorites]


Perot supported Planned Parenthood, for which I'm grateful.

He opposed NAFTA, for which I'm grateful. I think he was right about the famous sucking sound.

He believed in increasing taxes on the rich, which makes me wish he was around today.

I don't recall agreeing with hardly anything on Perot's platform. But GOOD LORD, I wish it had been him running for the GOP nomination against Trump. I think he would have mopped the floor with Trump, and even if he went on to beat HRC, we wouldn't be in near the mess we are now.
posted by magstheaxe at 1:43 PM on July 9 [16 favorites]


I always thought he won the election for William Jefferson Clinton. He siphoned off enough votes from George Herbert Walker Bush coupled with the watch my lips, "No new taxes" pledge of GHWB to give Clinton the win.

FiveThirtyEight did a brief film and a longer audio documentary about the effect of Perot on the '92 election. Exit polls showed that he drew voters about equally from Clinton & Bush; but it's impossible to say how the campaign would have proceeded if he hadn't been in it, since Clinton's & Bush's strategies probably would have been different.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:56 PM on July 9 [3 favorites]


There's an old British saying about England's biggest county: "Yorkshire born and Yorkshire bred. Strong in the arm and thick in the 'ead." Nice to see it's been adapted for use in Texas.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:00 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


De mortuis nihil nisi bonum. Thus I say nothing.
posted by Splunge at 2:05 PM on July 9 [3 favorites]


"Is Froggy ready to talk to me?"

. Phil Hartman

God, I miss that guy.
posted by The Bellman at 2:24 PM on July 9 [6 favorites]


I worked for IBM in a number of EDS accounts. Perot was a former IBM salesman, and kept the 50's & 60's IBM style going into the 80's at least.
In the 70's, you could tell the IBM CE's from the EDS employees because the IBM'ers mostly weren't wearing white shirts or blue suits.
One place asked us not to eat in the company cafeteria because the IBM folks were too shabbily dressed. (Although in this case, we were in jeans for an install)
I always thought it was an overly strict environment, but man, they knew their shit. One of the most professional places I went.
posted by MtDewd at 2:32 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Honestly, the most I miss about Perot is Dana Carvey's impression of him.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:36 PM on July 9 [12 favorites]


It is rather amazing that a protectionist populist could get widely popular without resorting to nativism, bigotry, and culture war tactics. Though I suppose Pat Buchanan was the bad cop to Perot's good cop in that era. For all of his bluster and folksiness, Perot's style seemed to be dominated by statistics and graphs.

Gingrich and the Congressional Republican culture warriors really did a number on this country.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:39 PM on July 9 [12 favorites]


the good die young.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:40 PM on July 9 [4 favorites]


and where elements of iOS and macOS were developed

This sells NeXT's role in modern Apple short. All the core philosophical bits at the heart of MacOS were NeXT; the hard core of the app ecosystem, companies like OmniGroup that are still kicking and doing their thing, all came from the NeXT ecosystem.
posted by billjings at 2:46 PM on July 9 [11 favorites]


We finally let him finish.
posted by panama joe at 2:56 PM on July 9 [19 favorites]


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 3:14 PM on July 9


Perot is survived by Interface Builder (the 31-year-old component that lets you visually build UIs in Xcode for Apple apps.)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:49 PM on July 9 [5 favorites]


I've told this story on Metafilter before, but my high school civics teacher told us one day that studies showed that most people's political party affiliation was set by the 5th grade, and that said party affiliation usually was whatever party your parents supported.

My best friend thought this was ridiculous, but I told her that I had chosen the Democratic party at age 8, during the 1992 elections. Being the first presidential elections that I could remember, I spent most of October and November of that year asking any adult I could find who they were going to vote for. One day I asked a friend of my mom's and she responded "George Bush". My mother laughed and teased, "Well, I guess SOMEONE has to vote for him!" On that day, I became a Democrat.

Years later, I found that both of my parents had voted for Perot in that election - the only election in which they did NOT vote Democrat.


"Texas born. Texas bred. When I die, I'll be Texas dead. Ha!"

This is startlingly close to the fight song for my alma mater: Emory and Henry College, Virginia (as heard in the first 15 seconds of this alumni fundraiser ad).
"We're Emory born and Emory bred, and when we die we'll be Emory dead! So, rah rah for Emory Henry, rah rah for Emory Henry, rah rah for Emory, rah rah rah!"
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:37 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


<Perot> The deficit is like a man with a rattlsnake in his pants. He's got a gun and he wants to shoot it but there's other things down there that he doesn't want to hit. </Perot>
posted by jclarkin at 4:40 PM on July 9 [4 favorites]


My dad was a Perot guy. I think he just liked the whole "outsider" thing. Especially after he got burned by "no new taxes".

Years ago I found some old weekly readers from my Christian school and they had some Ross Perot articles (1986 or so). I don't remember why he got attention then, but he was important enough to merit in my Christian 4th grade reading thingy...

The funny thing is we went to see Spiderman on Sunday and talking about the Dem Debates and crowded field and I was like : Forget debates it's just a bunch of 2 minute rehearsed talking points.

Let's see some substance, let's see them get an hour like ol Ross Perot.

And now... LOOK WHAT I DID!
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posted by symbioid at 4:46 PM on July 9


He opposed NAFTA, for which I'm grateful.

Dana Carvey’s impersonation of him on SNL was huge, for a very short period of time. I think they even had a debate where he played both Bush and Perot, via camera tricks. But for some reason, the only other skit I remember was when DC had left SNL, but returned in 1994 to give out Halloween candy to kids in Dallas: “Say NAFTA’s bad, and you’ll get a piece of candy.”

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posted by Melismata at 7:14 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


When I worked for him at EDS you could not wear boots or facial hair . . .we did anyway
posted by ahimsakid at 7:52 PM on July 9


Honestly, the most I miss about Perot is Dana Carvey's impression of him.

Exactly what I was thinking. "You're not listening! Release the kraken!"
posted by Palindromedary at 8:10 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


“In March, as Perot battled leukemia, in the last documented political act of his life, he wrote two checks for the legal maximum amount to Trump’s campaign for president, including for the general election next year.” Boston Globe

I am , of course, not opposed to populism but something Ross’ campaign manager said after the election is making the rounds: be careful cause the next time the man in the white horse appears he may not be a nice guy, he could be a race hater or divider of people.
posted by The Whelk at 8:36 PM on July 9 [16 favorites]


Perot also publicly endorsed GW Bush in 2000. Funny how these so-called populists are indistinguishable from Republicans. When push comes to shove, the only time it counts, they always vote Republican.
posted by JackFlash at 8:49 PM on July 9 [12 favorites]


I think they even had a debate where he played both Bush and Perot, via camera tricks.

Yup.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:58 PM on July 9 [3 favorites]


Filled the Opera Hall in hometown; and I had never seen so many out of county tags before.
Jesse Jackson came a year or so later; the "Up with Hope; Down with Dope" era; he had rented the regular hall - it did not fill up.
It was a great experience to see them both; surprise to see so many for Perot; sad to see so few for Jackson; both were excellent in their own way.

Perot did seem to be speaking to many of the other college kids in the hall; kept on going on about how we were all going to go deaf running those hair dryers in our ears with our long hair.

Even today I'll take the wacked out common sense (whether I agree with it or not) and sincerity much well over almost all of the babble babble that seems to define modern political success.

IIRC; he had several moments during the debates (planning on a Youtube hour on Wednesday for study) that made both Clinton and Bush appear to be vague to say the least. The guy was not an idiot by any means. RIP dude.
posted by Afghan Stan at 11:11 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


"Texas born. Texas bred. When I die, I'll be Texas dead. Ha!"

Okay sure that's cute, but what does it even mean
posted by clockzero at 11:12 PM on July 9


what does it even mean

He was fond of Texas, where he was born.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:35 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


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posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:30 AM on July 10


I still have a few Ross For Boss buttons. When he lost his first go around, local Democrats were urged by the party to go to the office and buy a button or two and try to retrieve any Democrats who had joined the Ross campaign. In some ways I liked Ross. Think he had a few good ideas. I never was going to vote for him. I’m a Democrat and don’t cross party lines unless the person from the other party really and truly is better. I’ll say this, Ross probably would have been at least an ok president, not a total walking disaster.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:38 AM on July 10


Once of his last acts was to donate as much money as he legally could to the Trump campaign, so fuck this guy and fuck all billionaires.
posted by maxsparber at 4:47 AM on July 10 [10 favorites]


It is rather amazing that a protectionist populist could get widely popular without resorting to nativism, bigotry, and culture war tactics.

Back then you didn’t have to say it, it was just assumed.
posted by mpbx at 7:46 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]


Don't forget the fact that Perot was a total conspiracy nutcase.

On national TV, during the presidential debates, Perot said that the North Vietnamese in 1969 had hired a team of Black Panthers to assassinate him. No dog whistling there.

And then there was the time he quit his campaign, temporarily it turns out, because as he said on "60 minutes", the CIA was planning to sabotage his daughter's wedding by spreading rumors that she was a lesbian.
posted by JackFlash at 10:21 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]


He also provided much of the seed capital for Teach for America as well,so we have that odious organization to thank him for as well.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:10 PM on July 10


When push comes to shove, the only time it counts, they always vote Republican.
posted by JackFlash


Or give republicans money. As Perot did shortly before he died. Look it up. He gave Trump the maximum he could before he died.
posted by Splunge at 6:33 PM on July 10


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posted by riruro at 7:59 PM on July 10




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