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Picks and Pans Main: Tube

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Thank goodness the presidential candidates finally got around to debating. Up until now, this has been a surreal campaign, in large part because of a novel utilization of television. Bypassing the usual news outlets whenever possible, Bush, Clinton and Perot have basked in the cozier settings of MTV, Arsenio, TNN’s Nashville Now, Larry King Live, Donahue, breakfast nooks like Good Morning America and soft-focus newsmagazines like Dateline and 20/20. It’s a chatty, feel-good campaign calculated to disarm a restive, fed-up electorate. Who wants to cross swords with Sam Donaldson when you can shoot the breeze with Ralph Emery? But why do I gel the feeling that come November, no matter who is elected, all this eager intimacy will abruptly end and once again we’ll only see the President waving as he boards a helicopter?