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A Half-Century After Wallace, Trump Echoes the Politics of Division – The New York Times



WASHINGTON — The nation’s cities were in flames amid protests against racial injustice and the fiery presidential candidate vowed to use force. He would authorize the police to “knock somebody in the head” and “call out 30,000 troops and equip them with two-foot-long bayonets and station them every few feet apart.”

The moment was 1968 and the “law and order” candidate was George C. Wallace, the former governor of Alabama running on a third-party ticket. Fifty-two years later, in another moment of social unrest, the “law and order” candidate is already in the Oval Office and the politics of division and race ring through the generations as President Trump tries to do what Wallace could not.

Comparisons between the two men stretch back to 2015 when Mr. Trump ran for the White House denouncing Mexicans illegally crossing the border as rapists and pledging to bar all Muslims from entering the country. But the parallels have become even more pronounced in recent weeks after the killing of George Floyd as Mr. Trump has responded to demonstrations by sending federal forces into the streets to take down “anarchists and agitators.” The Wallace-style tactics were on display again on Wednesday as Mr. Trump stirred racist fears about low-income housing moving into the suburbs.

“In the presidential campaign of 1968, my father, Governor George Wallace, understood the potential political power of downtrodden and disillusioned working class white voters who felt alienated from government,” his daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, said by email the other day. “And Donald Trump is mining the same mother lode.”

Former President Barack Obama implicitly made the comparison between the two men during a eulogy on Thursday for John Lewis, the civil rights icon and longtime congressman. “George Wallace may be gone,” Mr. Obama said, “but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”

It may seem incongruous to see Mr. Trump, a New Yorker born to wealth with no ties to the South beyond Trump-branded property in Florida, embracing the same themes as Wallace, who was proud to call himself a “redneck” segregationist from hardscrabble Alabama. Yet it speaks to the enduring power of us-against-them politics in America and the boiling pot of resentment that Mr. Trump, hoping to save his presidency, is trying to tap into a half-century after Wallace did, hoping to win the presidency.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

To go back and read or listen to Wallace’s speeches and interviews from that seminal 1968 campaign is to be struck by language and appeals that sound familiar again, even if the context and the limits of discourse have changed.

Like Mr. Trump, Wallace denounced “anarchists” in the streets, condemned liberals for trying to squelch the free speech of those they disagreed with and ran against the elites of Washington and the mainstream media. He vowed to “halt the giveaway of your American dollars and products” to other countries.

“One of the issues confronting the people is the breakdown of law and order,” Wallace said at his campaign kickoff in Washington in February 1968. “The average man on the street in this country knows that it comes about because of activists, militants, revolutionaries, anarchists and communists.”

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Just last week, Mr. Trump framed the current campaign in similar terms. “So it’s a choice between the law and order and patriotism and prosperity, safety offered by our movement, and the anarchy and chaos and crime and socialism,” he told a tele-rally in North Carolina. In tweets this week, he promised “all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.”

Like the pugnacious Mr. Trump, Wallace enjoyed a fight. Indeed, he relished taking on protesters who showed up at his events. “You know what you are?” he called out to one. “You’re a little punk, that’s all you are. You haven’t got any guts.” To another, he said, “I may not teach you any politics if you listen, but I’ll teach you some good manners.”

Recalling the time protesters blocked President Lyndon B. Johnson’s motorcade, Wallace insisted that he would never let that happen to him. “If you elect me the president and I go to California or I come to Arkansas and some of them lie down in front of my automobile,” he said, “it’ll be the last thing they’ll ever want to lie down in front of.”

Mr. Trump has made similar chest-beating threats. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he wrote on Twitter after protests turned violent in Minneapolis following Mr. Floyd’s death under the knee of a white police officer. A few days later, the president said that protesters who tried to enter White House grounds would be greeted “with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” and that Secret Service agents would “quickly come down on them, hard.”

Among those who saw an analogy between the two men from the start was Mr. Lewis, who was beaten on the Selma bridge in Wallace’s Alabama in 1965 and died this month. “It is a reasonable comparison,” Mr. Lewis said in an interview with The New York Times and CNBC in 2016. “See, I don’t think Wallace believed in all of the stuff he was preaching. I think Wallace said a lot of stuff just to get ahead. I don’t think Trump really believes in all this stuff, but he thinks this will be his ticket to the White House.”

More recently, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has said that Mr. Trump is “more George Wallace than George Washington.” Mr. Trump’s campaign fired back this week in a statement by Katrina Pierson, a senior campaign adviser to the president, who credited him with increasing funding for historically black schools and signing criminal justice reform.

“There’s only one candidate in this race who bragged about receiving an award from George Wallace, and that’s Joe Biden,” Ms. Pierson said. “Biden also said that Democrats needed a ‘liberal George Wallace, someone who’s not afraid to stand up and offend people.’”

Both quotes refer to articles in The Philadelphia Inquirer, one in 1975 about Mr. Biden’s opposition to busing and another in 1987 mentioning a campaign stop in Alabama during his first presidential campaign. The Biden campaign countered with other clips from the 1970s in which Mr. Biden criticized Wallace and vowed to vote Republican if he won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976.

Wallace made his name as the most prominent segregationist of his time but he neither started nor ended that way. Unlike Mr. Trump, he was a small-town boy from Clio, Ala., who grew up to jump into politics as a progressive, eager to help the disadvantaged with New Deal-style programs. As a judge and a Democratic candidate for governor in 1958, he made a point of promising equality for Black Alabamians. But when he lost that contest to a candidate who demagogued on segregation, Wallace told an aide that “I was out-niggered and I will never be out-niggered again.”

After winning the governor’s mansion with a hard-core racist appeal, he came to national attention in 1963 by promising in his inaugural address “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” and months later by standing in the schoolhouse door in a failed effort to block the integration of the University of Alabama. Wallace that same year ordered the Confederate flag flown above the State Capitol, where it remained for 30 years before being taken down for good.

In “Settin’ the Woods on Fire,” an acclaimed 2000 documentary on his life, Wallace was quoted telling an associate who asked about his race-baiting that he wanted to talk about issues like roads and education but that he never got as much attention as when he thundered about race.

Wallace made his first faint stab at the White House in 1964, but when he ran for real in 1968 he bolted from the Democratic Party to lead the ticket of the American Independent Party. Trying to appeal to a national audience, he toned down the explicitly racist language and used code words instead, defending states’ rights, slamming court-ordered busing and promising law and order.

Credit…Associated Press

Like Mr. Trump, he denied trafficking in racism and turned the accusation around on his opponents. “I think the biggest racists in the world are those who call other folks racist,” Wallace said. “I think the biggest bigots in the world are those who call other folks bigots.”

In an interview on “Face the Nation” on CBS in Washington, he said his white critics called him a racist while fleeing to the suburbs so they did not have to send their children to schools with Black children. “This is a segregated city here because of the hypocrites who moved out,” he said. “This is the hypocrite capital of the world.”

Mr. Trump, who has come to the defense of the Confederate flag by mocking NASCAR for banning it, likewise tries to turn the racism charge against his critics. Last year, he asserted that four congresswomen of color were “a very Racist group of troublemakers,” referred to a Black congressman who angered him as “racist Elijah Cummings” and declared that the Rev. Al Sharpton “Hates Whites & Cops!”

After Mr. Biden last week called him “the first” racist president, Mr. Trump repeated his assertion that he had “done more for Black Americans than anybody with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.” (These are both ahistoric statements, of course. Many presidents were racist and early on even slave owners, while Lincoln was hardly the only president to have done more for Black Americans than Mr. Trump.)

In that 1968 race, Richard M. Nixon beat Hubert H. Humphrey, but Wallace won five states in the Deep South — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi — the last time an independent or third-party candidate captured any states in the Electoral College.

Wallace ran again in 1972, this time as a Democrat, but was felled by a would-be assassin’s bullets that left him paralyzed. He ran again in 1976 from a wheelchair, winning Democratic contests in three states but losing the nomination to a more moderate Southerner, Jimmy Carter.

By late in life, Wallace had a change of heart and repented his earlier racism, going so far as to call Mr. Lewis and others to personally apologize. He ran for governor one last time in 1982 by reaching out to Black voters and after winning installed many Black appointees in state government. At the 30th anniversary of Selma, he sang “We Shall Overcome” with Black Alabamians. When Wallace died in 1998, Mr. Lewis wrote an Op-Ed article in The Times forgiving him.

Mr. Trump, for his part, shows no signs of backing down and was the only living president to neither attend Mr. Lewis’s memorial service on Thursday nor send a message to be read. Wallace’s daughter said Mr. Trump understood, as her father did, that “the two greatest motivators for disaffected voters” are “hate and fear.”

“Mr. Trump exudes the same willingness to fight rather than to seek rational solutions much like my father did in 1968,” Ms. Wallace Kennedy said. “Both promise to be a president with personality and bravado who is ready to fight first and worry about the consequences later.”

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The politics of fiscal relief is failing Americans – Financial Times



In one of its worst-ever years in peacetime, the US has been able to nurse a consolation. As badly as it handled the Covid-19 pandemic, it was quick to soften the economic effects. Fiscal relief for a shuttered economy achieved bipartisan support in March. The $2tn Cares Act — worth roughly a tenth of national output — raised unemployment benefit, offered credit to companies and shored up state governments. Given the initial defeat of the 2008 bank bailout in Congress, none of this was inevitable.

Even this solace, it seems, is shortlived. Another round of fiscal intervention is clearly necessary. Continuing hardship, a surge in infections and the re-closing of many businesses that had opened put that beyond doubt. This time, however, the politics is failing.

Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on the size or duration of another bill. Among the unseen victims in this tiff are the recipients of the extra $600 in weekly unemployment aid that passed in March. It ran out on July 31. Democrats want to extend it until the end of the year, while Republicans cite the moral hazard of disincentivising work. Democrats propose $3.4tn in total stimulus. Republicans balk at that cost.

It is not frivolous to worry about intervention on this scale. It can have distorting effects and lead to waste. A return to some semblance of normality will involve unpicking this tapestry of fiscal transfers and lines of credit. Such is the nature of the crisis, however, that politicians must for now err on the side of action. Congress debates at leisure: the human cost in lay-offs and home-evictions mounts at pace. In haggling over aid, to the unemployed for instance, the bias of lawmakers should be towards generosity, and towards speed.

Ideally, it would be enough to appeal to conscience. If this is not enough, then lawmakers should remember that the jobless rolls include many of their own voters (they are simply too large not to) and that an election is less than three months off.

As well as the domestic suffering, Congress should also heed the implications for a world economy that America helps to drive. The first bill was an international event. If it transpires, this one will be, too. Jay Powell, chosen to chair the Federal Reserve by President Donald Trump and hardly a notorious socialist, urges against premature withdrawal of government support.

It would help matters if Mr Trump took a lead. He is less of an ideological free marketeer than many of his partisan colleagues, including Larry Kudlow, his economic adviser. Tellingly, the president made sure to associate himself with the original stimulus in the Cares Act. With the presidential election in the offing, he has an interest in what is proving to be popular intervention in the economy.

Of late, though, Mr Trump’s contribution has been to suggest a cut in payroll taxes. (“What payroll?” those without jobs will ask). He also repeated insinuations on Wednesday that Democrats want to bail out states they run. The first notion is one his own side say they will not support. The second just sours the cross-partisan mood that is needed for a deal.

In the end, this unprecedented intervention will have to be paid for through some blend of tax, borrowing and cuts to spending. Politicians who dread the growth of government, or of the deficit, should certainly set out a path to a more “normal” state of fiscal affairs. In the meantime, however, a devastated economy needs their help. An often traduced Washington salvaged some of its reputation in the spring. It is close to forfeiting it all over again.

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Timeline: Thailand's turbulent politics since 2014 military coup – Reuters Canada



BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai protesters, led by student groups, are returning to the streets calling for the ousting of the government less than two years after a general election was held. One group has openly criticised the monarchy, in a rare show of defiance.

FILE PHOTO: Thai students protest against a court’s decision that dissolved the country’s second largest opposition Future Forward party, less than a year after an election to end direct military rule, at Mahidol University, outside Bangkok, Thailand February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File photo

Here are the major events that have led up to these protests:

May 22, 2014 – Military stages a coup, ousting an elected government for the second time in a decade, citing the need to restore order in the face of street demonstrations against a populist government linked to telecoms tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, who himself was ousted in a coup in 2006.

Oct. 13, 2016 – Constitutional monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies after a 70-year reign. His son becomes King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

April 6, 2017 – A military-backed constitution is ratified after being approved in a referendum, with changes requested by King Vajiralongkorn that increased his powers, paving the way for an election.

Feb. 7, 2019 – The king rebukes his sister, Princess Ubolratana, over a Thaksin-linked party’s nomination of her as its candidate for prime minister. The party is later dissolved by a court before the election.

March 24, 2019 – General elections held amid complaints of cheating and vote-buying. Former army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup and was then prime minister of a military government, heads a pro-army party that wins the most votes.

Nov. 20, 2019 – Court disqualifies rising opposition figure Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward Party, from parliament prompting thousands to rally in Bangkok.

Jan. 12, 2020 – More than 12,000 people join an anti-government “Run Against Dictatorship” in the biggest show of dissent since the 2014 coup. A rival group holds a run in support of Prayuth.

Feb. 21 – Future Forward Party is banned for illegally taking a loan from its billionaire leader, Thanathorn, prompting small student protests on university campuses.

March 22 – Given restrictions to stop the novel coronavirus, student protests peter out but online criticism of government continues, with some also directing criticism at the king. The hashtag “#whydoweneedaking?” is posted more than 1 million times.

June 8 – Small protests held to call for an investigation into the disappearance of an exiled government critic in Cambodia.

June 15 – Prayuth warns political activists not to criticise the monarchy.

June 24 – Protesters gather to mark the anniversary of the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

July 18 – About 2,500 protesters gather at Democracy Monument, one of the largest demonstrations since the coup, calling for the dissolution of parliament and new elections.

Aug. 4 – Speakers call for the monarchy’s power to be curbed at a rally attended by hundreds in Bangkok.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Robert Birsel

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Exclusive: Fauci says regulators promise politics will not guide vaccine timing – Reuters



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. regulators have assured scientists that political pressure will not determine when a coronavirus vaccine is approved even as the White House hopes to have one ready ahead of the November presidential election, the country’s leading infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday.

“We have assurances, and I’ve discussed this with the regulatory authorities, that they promise that they are not going to let political considerations interfere with a regulatory decision,” Dr. Fauci told Reuters in an interview.

“We’ve spoken explicitly about that, because the subject obviously comes up, and the people in charge of the regulatory process assure us that safety and efficacy is going to be the prime consideration,” he said.

President Donald Trump, a Republican, is behind Democrat Joe Biden in public opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Trump has lost ground in part due to voter concerns over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

A vaccine announcement in October could help Trump’s chances in the nationwide vote.

“I’m certain of what the White House would like to see, but I haven’t seen any indication of pressure at this point to do anything different than what we’re doing,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“I mean obviously they’ve expressed: ‘Gee, it would be nice, the sooner the better.’”

Trump has suggested publicly that a vaccine could be ready long before the end of the year. In the interview Fauci offered a more conservative view, suggesting drugmakers will likely have tens of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines in the early part of next year.

Fauci and other doctors on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, including its coordinator Deborah Birx, have come under criticism from the president for portraying the pandemic in less rosy terms than he has sought to emphasize.

Trump said in a recent interview with Axios that the virus was “under control.”

Asked if he shared that assessment, Fauci said some parts of the country were more under control than others.

“We’re a big country. You can pick out some parts of the country that are looking good and you could say is under control; you could pick some parts of the country that are on fire, in the sense, I mean you’re having outbreaks that you know you don’t get 70,000 cases a day when nothing’s going on.”

More than 157,000 people have died in the United States from COVID-19 and more than 4.7 million cases have been reported in the country and its territories, according to Reuters tallies.

Earlier this week the president criticized Dr. Birx for giving a sobering description of the state of the pandemic.

Fauci said the doctors try to focus on the science rather than political distractions.

“What we try to do, you know maybe some could do it better than others, is to focus like a laser on what we’re supposed to be doing: getting this epidemic under control,” he said.

Fauci said differences in the seriousness with which people had taken the virus in the United States had hampered the response to the pandemic in comparison to other countries.

“We have somewhat of a disjointed approach to things,” he said. “If we had a uniformity of it, and everybody rode together in the same boat, we probably would do much better.”

Fauci and other medical professionals have urged Americans to wear masks and maintain a social distance to prevent the spread of the virus. He lamented the fact that mask-wearing had become political earlier in the pandemic.

Trump declined to wear a mask in public for months and Vice President Mike Pence faced criticism for not wearing one when he visited the Mayo Clinic in April.

FILE PHOTO: Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases prepares to testify ahead of a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 30, 2020. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

“Thank goodness that’s changed,” Fauci said. “I’m very pleased now that we’re seeing the vice president consistently wearing a mask, the president tweeting that you should be wearing masks. That’s a good thing. That’s a step in the right direction.”

Video: Reuters interview with Anthony Fauci here

Reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington and Michael Erman in New Jersey; Editing by Howard Goller

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