LOS ANGELES. — Los Angeles. -- As I scanned the channels trying to get away from the twang und drang of Ross Perot, I toted up the reasons I would not vote for the man even if he brought the money to my door.
1. I love my country.
2. He reminds me of Napoleon.
3. I don't like self-financed politics, which means, to me, government of the super-rich, by the super-rich -- and, soon enough, for only the super-rich.
4. I don't like the fact that buying public office is no longer a problem of the American system -- now it is the system.
5. I am offended by the hypocrisy of the man spending $55 million or whatever to get himself on TV as a man of the people.
6. I am frightened by the fact that a man could be even spoken of in the same breath as the presidency when he made his first public appearance nine days before the election -- that is, before an audience of people not on his real or psychic payroll.
7. I am embarrassed by the reaction of my own business, the press, for taking the nation along on a bad joke. I feel he has made a fool of us, a feeling that became a conviction when I saw that his photograph took up a third of the front page of the New York Times' Week in Review Sunday.
8. I don't think Arkansas is irrelevant.
9. I don't like politicians who exploit their daughters.
10. I don't think he's very smart.
11. I'd prefer the real thing, Andy Griffith.
12. He says the same thing over and over again, like a Chatty Cathy doll.
13. He smells mean and petty to me. I believe the stories about the private detectives and all that.
14. He reminds me of what I have read of William Randolph Hearst's pursuit of the White House.
15. If he actually succeeded in buying the White House, he would not have the vaguest idea of what to do next -- except go on television, which seems to be his real goal. (Maybe Bill Clinton wouldn't know either, but I suspect he would have the common sense to keep his mouth shut until he had something new to say.)
16. I don't believe Adm. James Stockdale would be much help. The only vice presidential candidate Mr. Perot would be comfortable with, or at least compatible with, is Oliver Stone.
17. It is my considered opinion, without qualification, that Ross Perot is nuts!
The press should have gone after this one-man focus group from day one. Nothing I write or say could make the man look crazier than he did last Sunday, accusing the government of driving him out of the race by threatening to spoil his daughter's nice day.
Crazy or not, the man is making fools of us all. To quote a former president whose earthy clumsiness looks better and more impressive every day, Gerald Ford: "If Lincoln were alive today, he'd roll over in his grave."
Richard Reeves is a syndicated columnist.