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PEROT'S RALLY TAKES A BACK SEAT

Ross Perot's extravaganza was the Jerry Lewis Telethon of politics: an interminable rally at which thousands of citizens trying to do good had to indulge the high-pitched ravings of an egomaniacal clown.

William Bennett was right, if unsuccessful, when he advised his party's would-be presidents "not to pander to Mr. Perot" by showing up in Dallas, on the grounds that he is "nothing but trouble."But however depressing the spectacle of Republicans and Democrats alike brown-nosing Perot, his pander-thon was not the most disturbing flexing of political muscle by a would-be demagogue we will see this year.

Far more alarming - and less likely to be exposed to scrutiny by continuous cable TV coverage - is the convention to be held by the Christian Coalition in Washington the weekend after Labor Day. Phil Gramm, Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich and Bennett himself have all signed up to pay court to Pat Robertson, that rare politician who makes Perot seem benign.