George Wallace

What really happened.
Aug. 24 1997 3:30 AM

George Wallace

GeorgeWallace

George Wallace
Part One, Sunday, Aug. 24, Part Two, Tuesday, Aug. 26; 8 p.m. EDT; TNT

(Continued from Page 1)

Most strikingly, Wallace's presidential campaigns--he ran in 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976--are almost entirely omitted. At a 1972 rally in Laurel, Md., he was shot by a deranged man and paralyzed from the waist down--one campaign scene we see in detail. But there are almost no scenes of Wallace calling for law and order, or railing against excessive government and "pointy-head intellectuals." We don't see him surprise the nation in 1964 with strong showings in the Maryland and Wisconsin Democratic primaries--states outside the Deep South where he wasn't expected to fare well. Lesher is right that we don't see the side of Wallace that has had a continuing influence on politics today. As historian Alan Brinkley wrote in a 1994 review of Lesher's book: "In his national campaigns, Gov. Wallace laid out in flamboyant and often witty form much of what would soon become the program of the New Right." George Wallace commits Wallace's rhetoric and ideas to the past, making him the last of one kind of politician--the die-hard segregationist--rather than, perhaps, the precursor of another.

Jared Hohlt is an editor at New York magazine.