Billy Graham Was a Giant in American Political Life

By Charles P. Pierce

When I was growing up, Rev. Billy Graham was one of those names that floated around the news stream like lily pads in a pond. Estes Kefauver. Willy Brandt. Anastas Mikoyan. And Billy Graham. Johnny Carson used to make jokes about him that the adults thought were a riot. Occasionally, he’d drop by one of the talk shows and make small talk with Merv or Mike. He was a giant figure in the political life of this country. And now he’s dead, at 99. That’s a good long run.

I guess I’m supposed to have something to say about him. After all, as The New York Times says:

“A central achievement was his encouraging evangelical Protestants to regain the social influence they had once wielded, reversing a retreat from public life that had begun when their efforts to challenge evolution theory were defeated in the Scopes trial in 1925.

“But in his later years, Mr. Graham kept his distance from the evangelical political movement he had helped engender, refusing to endorse candidates and avoiding the volatile issues dear to religious conservatives.”

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