Kire Schneider Online

Saturday, October 29, 2011

TNT Films: George Wallace 1997- The Alabama Dixiecrat



From what I’ve heard and seen, read about George Wallace the former long time Governor of Alabama, as well as multiple time presidential candidate as a Democrat, as well as an Independent, the 1997 TNT movie about him naturally called George Wallace, is a pretty accurate movie about him. George Wallace started off as a Progressive on economic policy. Things like infrastructure investment, public education, as well as higher education, housing. And was a moderate on social issues. Including civil rights, until he lost the 1958 election for Governor of Alabama.

And then George Wallace calculated politically that in order to become Governor of Alabama and have a future in national politics, especially as a Southerner, he could get by with being for economic progressivism, even tax hikes. As long as that money was doing some good for the State. With schools, roads and so forth. But that he had to run to the Right or Far-Right even on Civil Rights. That he couldn’t support integration, in order to get elected Governor of Alabama.

Even as someone who up to that point was basically a Progressive Democrat and had to been favor of states rights especially on civil rights. In order to get elected Governor of Alabama and reelected and have a future in national politics, or with another party. Which is what he did in 1968 running for President in the Independence Party and there was such a thing back then. The movie George Wallace I believe does a very good job of portraying the man George Wallace. Who was very different in public than in private.

Which is how Gary Sinise plays Governor Wallace in the movie. Someone who didn’t believe in integration in public. Even though in private got along very well with African-Americans and even managed to win some of their votes. Because he was a Progressive on economic policy. And built schools, roads, hospitals and other public infrastructure in their communities. Something that Alabama Governor’s apparently didn’t do much of in the past. And these African-American voters voted with their wallets when it came to Governor Wallace.

And thats what you see in this movie as well. Someone whose public persona was different from his private persona. And without the assassination attempt in 1972 in Laurel, Maryland, when Governor Wallace was campaigning for president in the Maryland Democratic primary, getting shot I believe in the back, maybe we have an Independence Party today. A clear third choice for Independent voters. And a party of their own that George Wallace could’ve continued to build. Along with John Anderson in 1980 and Ross Perot in the 1990s.

The TNT George Wallace movie I believe was very good. As well as the PBS documentary film about him. Setting the Woods on Fire from 2003. Because both films did their research on him and interviewed people who knew him and worked for Governor Wallace. And didn’t try to portray George Wallace as a devil or as a saint. But someone who was a lot more complicated than that, as he was.