Citizen Perot

Posner, Gerald

BOOKS IN REVIEW - "Citizen Perot" Digging His Own Grave: Ross Talks to a Real Reporter Citizen Perot: His Life and Times Gcruid Posner Random House 1400 Pages/ $25 R E VIEWED B Y Tucker Carlson...

...found himself slapped with a lawsuit when he tried-surprise-to raid his former company for employees...
...What emerges is stunning, even for long-tune Perotwatchers...
...lflttr...
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...I found in the negotiations that they'd agree to anything on the business side no matter how ridiculous...
...Roger [Smith] is stuck with me," he boasted to reporters...
...Heck, we won World War II in four years...
...EDS bungled basic tasksputting the wrong beneficiaries on employee insurance policies, for instance-even as it added redundant positions to the GM payroll...
...An overbearing loudmouth who knew next to nothing about low cars were manufactured and sold, Perot insisted on lecturing nlen who had spent 80 November 19 9 6 ' The American Spectator their lives in the auto industry on how to produce Chevrolets...
...VOXT" today...
...In December 1986, GM paid Perot $742.8 million to leave...
...Under the terms of the deal, Perot became the company's largest stockholder, and also joined GM's board...
...Culpable executives know the drill as well as anyone, and the smart ones stay indoors, or respond with a tersely worded letter denying all responsibil ity...
...you won't believe it until you actually hear it...
...Get most advanced technical features, "shirtpocket" AM/FM reception as you never had before, and enjoy a whole new world of listening pleasure...
...As it turned out, the money would also buy a vacation home in Bermuda, faster speed boats, and perhaps a new security system or two...
...I don't need it...
...By force of powerful will and boundless charisma, they imagine, they will he able to charm the reporter into producing a positive story, or at least avoid being savaged...
...setting profit records for nine years in a row, and becoming less dependent on government contracts...
...It takes five years to develop a new car in this country," he squawked...
...Invariably the highlight of such stories is the Culpable Executive Interview, in which the sweaty-looking company president is posed a list of unanswerable questions and otherwise humiliated...
...Instead he pocketed it, after signing an agreement with GM in which he promised not to start a new computer business for two years, and then not to raid his former company for employees...
...The result is Citizen Perot, the strongest proof yet that, if you're guilty, explaining your side will only compound your guilt...
...Among other things, those facts reveal that Perot is not only a sleazy politician, he is also a sleazy businessnlan...
...Seven hundred million would buy a brandspanking-new car plant...
...C ensions I ike these are not unusual when large companies 3nerge, and ulti 3nately most of diem were eased...
...Fiore are some of the other great Features of this break-through receiver: PLL Synthesized Tuning Built-in Speaker High-Impact Case r State-of-the-Art Technology 10 Memory Presets  Stereo Earphones Stereo Phone jack Stereo / R1o no S w i tc h Key-Lock Function Batteries Included Telescope Antenna Last-Tuned 5tation Retained The .4 R-307A c]'n r 1;= on rwe AAA c ; Its rr rid, y, i-rherf are i+rrha1e t? It rirm:Irr'ea 2.5 .r 4 niches aril .eci7Is less dirrrr The on lees...
...Ross Perot turns out to be hastier, III ore manipulative, suspicious, self-absorbed, and deceitful than all but his bitterest opponents, and possibly his secretaries, could have imagined...
...Perot generally does leis best to stay away from any journalist more rigorous than Larry King...
...Fellow adviser Ed Rollins mistakenly takes Jordan's nervous cowering for heart failure...
...In the early summer of 1984, Mil bought Perot's company, Electronic Data Systems, for $2.55 billion in cash and stock...
...interview with his subject...
...Perot was perfectly aware he was driving GM management crazy, and he seemed to enjoy it...
...He has touched the tar baby...
...According to Posner, Perot never even set up an escrow account for the cash...
...From practically his first day on the board, he made life exquisitely unpl easant for the other directors...
...But even Posner did not expect to land an Tucxt;it CARSON is a staff writer for the Weekly Standard...
...But rather than accept the cash and head back to Dallas, Perot insisted on salting the wound...
...I've alerted the stockholders that if they accept this, they deserve what they get," he crowed...
...I ie did not go away...
...Nor was Perot's company nearly as efficient as GPI Chairman Roger Smith had imagined...
...He also must have spent weeks rooting through government archives in Washington, Texas, and elsewhere...
...The government, for its part, found Perot "enlotionally nlalacl j usted for a regular Navy career...
...We do not refund shipping charges...
...but it has sound co clean and so crisp that you'd think you were in a conert hall or listening to an elaborate sound system...
...Their method is to move in quick and throw peo ple and money at the problems...
...When they didn't hop to attention, Perot brought his harangues to the press...
...And there is For customer service and x'heIesaIo orders call 415-543-5175...
...Ross Perot obviously doesn't watch television very closely...
...Meanwhile, with Perot out of the way, both GM and EDS took off...
...But there are others-most of them egomaniacs-who go ahead and sit for the interview...
...Instead, he would put the settlement in escrow and give the board time to reconsider the deal...
...J rust about every week, one of the television news magazines runs an expose of a corporate scandal, often one having to do with a company that has knowingly sold dangerous or defective products to kids in an effort to increase profits...
...Perot responded, as he invariably does, by blaming someone else, in this case GM...
...It didn't take long for GM to decide that getting rid of Perot-simply not having to listen to him at board meetingswas worth paying any price...
...Author of Case Closed, the definitive study of the Kennedy assassination, Posner leas spoken to nearly every significant person in Perot's public life over the past forty years...
...The rest of the Perot story-his admirable rescue of his employees from revolutionary Iran, his entrance into politics, his spectacular public meltdowns -is fairly well known to television viewers, but Posner uncovers some significant details...
...It would be morally wrong...
...The terms were absurdly generous, and Perot knew it...
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...In Detroit, irritated car makers began calling the cony pane "Ever Diminishing Service...
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...In one wonderful scene, taken from the 1992 campaign, Perot screams at adviser Hamilton Jordan so violently that Jordan promptly retreats to his office and has an anxiety attack...
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...They just don't understand the tech 11ology at all," Complained one senior GM engineer...
...Computer experts from Perot's firm were charged with streamlining the movement of inventory and making the auto giant more efficient...
...of 1]]l] lt[1ttS...
...81 The American Spectator November r 9 9 6...
...auerhills~ 185 Berry Street, San Francisco...
...It was the dumbest deal I ever heard of," Perot told reporters...
...Outraged employees began criticizing the deal immediately...
...He is a plan who lies given at least five entirely different versions of why lie requested an early discharge from the Naw...
...Another vignette has Posner and his wife sitting in Perot's Dallas office watch ing a video of his 1993 televised debate with Al Gore over NAFTA...
...But we have an even better deal: Buy Iwo for just $99.90, and welt send you a third one, with our compliments-absolutely FREE...
...Perot asked...
...Literally...
...The facts shout for theniselvcs...
...Perot, of course, got creamed in the exchange, and two years later he explains why: "Watch [the tape] again," Perot instructs Posner, "and watch Al Gore's ear...
...Perot then held a press conference to announce he couldn't accept the money after all, not at "a time when General Motors is closing 11 plants" and "putting over 30,000 people out of work...
...Here is a radio so small that it comfortably fits into your shirt pocket...
...Two years later, Perot 44 In December 1986, General Motors paid Perot $742.8 million to leave...
...Why should I take this money...
...You have 30-day refund and one-year warranty...
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...The terms were absurdly generous, and Perot knew it...
...FidelihV is crisp: its astnroosIihrg, espc ast1V for a lath of ,. , size...
...In the ten years since his departure, EDS has more than doubled its revenues and workforce, FOR FASTEST SERVICE, ORDER TOLL FREE (800) 797-7367 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week...
...In return, GM gained full access to EDS's considerable technological expertise...
...For some reason, though, lie fell for Posner, even calling the author at home and offering to help gather information for the biography...
...We need daytime phone # for all orders...
...Very few accepted Perot's offers to join him...
...We know this because last year lie gave the first in a series of interviews to investigative reporter Gerald Posner...
...It never works...
...Posner mostly resists the temptation to psychoanalyze-harder than it sounds with Perot-which is good: a book this well researched doesn't need a shrink...
...C'hat's just one of the smaller details he lies about...
...There were serious problems from the beginning: EDS employees, the gung-ho veterans in crew cuts Perot was famous for hiring, were hocked and despised at unionized GM...
...Others found the deal equally preposterous, a betrayal of the workers Perot now so loudly defends...
...the reporting is relentless, enough to make ordinars' journalists feel inadequate...
...Perot, however, was a different matter...
...Consider what he did to General Motors...

Vol. 29 • November 1996 • No. 11


 
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