Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mixed Blessing for Trump: A Flashback

Billy Graham's son and successor says the Donald may be his "candidate of choice" for the Presidency, stirring memories of how the fabled minister got his start as the spiritual advisor to Presidents.

In backing Trump, the Grahams would be coming full circle on gambling casinos from a founder of Las Vegas to the honcho of Atlantic City.

In 1940s after starting out as a Fuller Brush salesman, the elder Graham went to L. A. and started saving celebrity souls. A young evangelist not adverse to publicity, he was landing only small fish until he hooked onto the mobster who helped Bugsy Siegel invent Vegas, Mickey Cohen ("I have killed no man that didn't deserve killing." Think Harvey Keitel in Warren Beatty's 1991 movie, "Bugsy.").

The conversion lasted only long enough to generate headlines but, after Cohen did a prison stretch, the Rev. Graham tried again, breaking bread with the reformed gangster.

"I am very high on the Christian way of life," Cohen said afterward. "Billy came up, and before we had food he said—-What do you call it. that thing they say before food? Grace? Yeah, grace. Then we talked a lot about Christianity and stuff."

Alas, the conversion was not a complete success and, after flaunting his legitimacy in the media, Cohen was sent back to prison for tax evasion. "Christian football players, Christian cowboys, Christian politicians," he shrugged. "Why not a Christian gangster?"

But the Graham ministry has never backed down from a challenge and, in Donald Trump, they will have the biggest to date. In converting to piety a loudmouth, loose-living, double-dealing egomaniac, they will be moving up from praying with Presidents to trying to create one.

Heaven help them--and the rest of us. "God does play dice with the universe," Albert Einstein famously said, but legendary evangelists apparently do, if they are willing to put Donald Trump's finger on the White House nuclear button.

2 comments:

Southern Beale said...

Billy Graham's son and successor says the Donald may be his "candidate of choice" for the Presidency, stirring memories of how the fabled minister got his start as the spiritual advisor to Presidents.

Ummm... I'm not so sure about this. Franklin Graham is nothing like his father. And I certainly would not call Franklin Graham " the spiritual advisor to Presidents." Billy Graham, perhaps, but not Franklin.

Franklin Graham is a right-wing neocon who is known for his politics. Billy Graham has for the most part stayed out of politics and has been a much more tolerant and less judgmental figure in American evangelism. Sadly one cannot say the same for his son.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Gorgeous post. The trouble, though, is that the idiot progeny of Billy Graham is . . . well, an idiot.