It Just Wasn't That Simple

For a presidential candidate who scarcely seemed to exist outside the TV studio, it is fitting that Ross Perot's most enduring legacy may be in the realm of media, not politics. Not only did he help make talk shows like Larry King Live the venue of choice for national campaigning, he also revitalized the TV infomercial.

In an age of sound bites and imagemakers, the paid political program has acquired an earnest but dreary air. The form has survived primarily as a weapon for fringe candidates like Lyndon LaRouche and as an election-eve ritual for major-party candidates, who by then are...

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