EDITOR’S NOTE The Talk of the Town

The theater is packed for the closing night of the USA Film Festival and the Dallas debut of The Player- Robert Alt-man’s sendup of everything that’s gross about the movie industry. Funny and clever, it also offers one line that sends a murmured hush through the audience because we are watching this movie less than 24 hours after Los Angeles has begun to burn.

Whoopi Goldberg, as a quirky homicide detective, makes a passing reference to the Rodney King incident-a line written many months before, when the American public was first reeling from the viciousness of the attack. A line written when we were sure justice would be served.

But as we all know by now, 1992-though only 5 months old-is an unpredictable year. To borrow a line from Ross Perot, we’ve had shocks to the system. Of course, the question is, will he be the ultimate shock?

Considering the stressed state of the American psyche after the Los Angeles riots, will Perot become the ultimate symbol of change?

I’m not a prognosticator and D Magazine isn’t in the endorsement business. But I know what I’m hearing everywhere, from Republicans and Democrats, from fellow journalists and people I barely know: disgust with the current political system and the fear that our society has become fogged in by drugs, crime, racism and poverty.

And Ross Perot, for all his flaws, seems to be in the right place at the right time.

In the past two months, as his candidacy became more of a sure thing and national journalists hopped in and out of Dallas on their way to the story, seemingly no Perotisms went untouched. And because Perot, over the years, has been so media-unfriendly, as well as conservative and often tyrannical in his dealings, there is a certain wariness of Perot within the press. I can’t forget my own disparaging remarks, and many others’. made in private conversations in years past.

Yet now I find myself in daily exchanges that are both confusing and provocative.

How do I explore-as an editor-the significance of personal discussions with lifelong liberals who say they will vote for Perot? These are intelligent people who aren’t listening to those who suggest that a vote for Perot is a wasted vote.

What bigger message is there in the story told at a cocktail party by a young North Dallas mother who is stalked by an unknown man while shopping for disposable diapers? A Republican voter in the past, she has signed the Perot petition.

How do I fairly explain Perot to my father in Florida-so desperate for change that he has sent money to Jerry Brown?

No one article, TV interview or conversation will do Perot justice, and in the end, that may not even be an issue. The public seems so desperate it may vote more from passion than knowledge. I hope not. Four years is a long time.

Which brings me to this month’s cover story, an analytical essay by executive editor Chris Tucker, who appreciates the machinations of politics and who has watched Perot for years. We did not want simply to rehash the Perot legend in Dallas, yet it is that legend that will define the coming months of the campaign. Tucker puts us in the middle of likely scenarios and raises questions that soon should be answered.

Perot and this election year are enigmas ripe for a Hollywood treatment. Along with everything else, we have two candidates with Texas roots who love to drive gigantic power boats. Throw in issues of wealth, morality, feminism and race and anything’s possible.

If the voting public decides that America is about to come apart, Dallas may be the opening scene for a political melodrama. One thing is certain: We all will have front-row seats and the final script has yet to be written

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