Billy Graham has died: Speaking the truth to power

February 21, 2018

Billy Graham was “the good Rasputin,” an independent religious figure who whispered into the ears of the powerful but always for the greater good rather than his own personal aggrandizement.  His emergence coincided with the rapid rise of the Evangelical Movement in America and thus his political power.

In 1950, when he met with President Harry Truman, his first president,  he was awkward and indiscreet but by the time he met with President Barrack Obama in 2010, presidents needed the picture with him far more than he needed one with them.

Politicians and Graham had a symbiotic relationship.  Both had parts to play and both sides knew it.

In 1985, I prepared a memo for Vice President George H. W. Bush on how he could build a relationship with Evangelicals. Polling data available at the time showed Billy Graham as the least controversial Evangelical in public life.  The vice president’s son, George W. Bush quizzed me at length about the memo and asked questions about another evangelical leader, Arthur Blessitt.  That summer, Billy Graham was invited to the Bush compound at Kennebunkport, Maine and a friendship developed with the family, including father and son.

Ten years later, when then Texas governor, George W. Bush began to think seriously of running for president he began talking about a spiritual awakening that had been triggered by Billy Graham’s visit to Maine.  As Bush remembered, they had walked the beach together and talked.

As the 2000 election neared, Richard Ostling a religious editor for the Associated Press called me to say that he had interviewed Dr. Graham and the evangelist had no idea of what Governor Bush was talking about.  There was no beach in Kennebunkport, it was all rocks.  And Graham remembered no such conversation.

I called Bush to warn him about the discrepancy.  “Aw, he just probably forgot,” Bush said.

And afterward a apoplectic Arthur Blessitt began publishing a blog saying that he, Blessitt, had actually prayed with George W. Bush to be “born again.”  “Where was this Billy Graham stuff coming from?”

By 2000, Governor George W. Bush was in a tight presidential race with Tennessee Senator Al Gore.  By then Billy Graham and Bush had a clear understanding.  I worked with a young staffer, Brian Jacobs, to help arrange a meeting between Bush and Graham in Jacksonville, Florida.  The meeting took place the day before the election and both men appeared before the media.  “I don’t endorse politicians,” Graham said, “But if I did it would be someone like this man right here.”  How could he deny his own convert?  The next day Bush won Florida by 537 votes and with it the White House.

Billy Graham was not perfect.  When the television scandals hit he was the target of an IRS probe for illegally retained income and an ongoing Knight-Ridder investigation.  When the Watergate tapes were released there he was apparently sympathetic to Richard Nixon’s anti Semitic ramblings.

Most people would be surprised to know that Graham was a hypochondriac who was constantly checking himself into Mayo Clinic.  I received a call from him one day, from his hospital bed, just wanting to talk about politics and the White House.  He sounded very much like he had only days to live.  That was twenty five years ago.

Like all old men, Graham needed assurance that he was still wanted and needed and important.  I called him one day and he appeared piqued.  Reagan had always asked for his input for his speech before the National Prayer Breakfast. But we hadn’t bothered to call.

“I can assure you that the president wants your input,” I said confidently.  “Why he would welcome anything you suggest.”

“Well, if you really think he would want it?”

“I can assure you Dr. Graham, he would be very grateful.”

“Well, I don’t want it to be a bother,” he added sheepishly.

“No, no, we want it, we want it.”

He promptly sent us suggested remarks that had the president recounting stories about “my good friend, Billy Graham.”

President George H. W. Bush did not miss a beat.  He worked every line into his speech, lauding the evangelist and cementing their relationship.

Graham sat humbly, sometimes laughing as if he were hearing the stories for the first time, sometimes red with embarrassment at the praise and always surprised that the president would be so thoughtful to say such things..

Only two people in that ballroom knew that Billy Graham, himself, had written the words.  They both got what they wanted.

One of the most telling moments I had with Dr. Billy Graham came in a private meeting with President G.H.W. Bush and four heads of state.  Within a year, one was deposed, another in jail, another had died.  Bush, himself, would not be re-elected.  But Billy Graham endured.  Many times I have thought back on that meeting.  This was one of Graham’s greatest accomplishments, public figures come and go, somehow he survived them all.

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Donald Trump loves this female Judge

February 14, 2017
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President Donald Trump and Judge Maryanne Barry, his sister.

Here’s one judge that Donald Trump loves. Federal Judge, Maryanne Barry, his older sister.

Judge Barry, is a Senior United States Circuit Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She was first appointed to the federal bench during the Reagan administration. The Clinton administration promoted her again.

In 2004, she was presented with a public service award by Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor.

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Kick & JFK on the right.

Many presidents have had close relationships with a sister. It is almost eerie. Abraham Lincoln looked to Sarah. Her death broke his heart. John Kennedy was disconsolate when he lost his sister, and best friend, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy. He vicariously thrilled with her adventures and they shared many secrets together.

 

President Jimmy Carter was close to his sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton.

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The George H.W. Bush family.

When George and Barbara Bush called young George, Jr. out of school in Texas, and had him get into the car, to tell him that his sister, Robin had died, he was stunned. He had known that something was wrong. He had begged to play with her at Kennebunkport, Maine that summer but they kept them apart, fearing that young George would be too rough.

Now, weeks later in Texas, told that she had died, he kept repeating, in between sobs, “Why didn’t you tell me, why didn’t you tell me.” He had not been given the chance to say goodbye.

(Read All the Presidents Children.)

Thomas Jefferson’s sister, Martha, was widowed at a young age and spent much of her life at Monticello, running her brother’s estate.

President Rutherford B. Hayes was close to his sister, Fanny. As children, when one got sick, the other one nursed them back to health. Rutherford used to pull his sister around on a sled.

When President Chester Arthur’s wife died, his sister, Molly McElroy, had to step in as first lady, to run the White House and take care of his little girl.

Theodore Roosevelt’s sister, Anna Roosevelt Cowels, “Bamie,” was so talented that Alice Roosevelt once said that she should have been the president.

In the soon to be released book, GAME OF THORNS, you will read about President Donald Trump’s older sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry.  When candidate Trump tangled with Megyn Kelly of Fox News, his big sister was there to reassure him. “Just be yourself.”

When the Access Hollywood tape was released, and all seemed lost, she and others counseled calm.

Journalists and television pundits are quick to point out that no president has ever had a sister serving as a judge. It’s true. But some have been close.

President George Washington’s nephew, Bushrod Washington, served on the Supreme Court.

President Zachary Taylor’s sister in law was the daughter of the famous Supreme Court Justice, John McLean.

President William Henry Harrison’s sister was married to a judge.

President John Tyler’s son in law was a judge. He became one of Tyler’s closest confidantes.

President James Buchanan’s brother was the US Attorney for Western Pennsylvania.

President John F. Kennedy’s brother was appointed Attorney General.

Then there is the big one. President William Howard Taft actually, later, became the tenth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

As you will learn in GAME OF THORNS, Donald Trump is close to his family members, that’s why his mind turned to them on the night he was declared the President –Elect.

“Truly, great people,” Trump told the nation, “I’ve got a great family.”

 


Sean Hannity, the Rodney Dangerfield of Network Anchors

February 12, 2017

“I get no respect.” – Rodney Dangerfield

Okay, it’s happened again so I’ve got to say something. Sean Hannity quizzed super attorney Jay Sekulow on the Hannity Show Friday night and solved the whole travel ban issue. It was a brilliant exchange. You can see it here.

So Saturday, all day, anchor after anchor and guest after guest all over television, repeated, line by line the issues of the travel ban, each coming to the same conclusions, although far less succinct than the brilliant Jay Sekulow.

They had on the illustrious former Harvard, law professor, Alan Dershowitz, and many other talented attorneys, one by one, guest by guest, they repeated the formula.

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Doug & Myriam Wead and Joshua with Sean Hannity.

So did any of the anchors or experts even mention Friday night? And Hannity? And Sekulow? “As was enunciated last night…” Nooooo.

When he’s wrong, you’ll hear about it. But when he’s right, which is pretty systematically, night after night, Sean Hannity gets no respect.

 


Breaking news: President threatens journalist with violence !

February 9, 2017

If Americans haven’t already had enough, the President has now threatened a journalist with violence. The president’s crude remarks implied that he would injure the man’s genitals and smash his face. He also attacked the man’s ancestry.

This president already has the lowest approval rating of any other in American history. His profanity laced speeches and public comments have demeaned the office. And some of his crude private remarks, which have come to light, are deeply offensive to decent women and young ladies.

I am speaking, of course, about Harry S. Truman. Often ranked by historians as one of the greatest presidents in American history.

While the national media gives the impression that Donald J. Trump’s approval rating is at record lows, it is actually twice as high as Harry Truman’s low moment, which once dipped to 22%.

The media says that Trump’s contempt for them is dangerous and a threat to democracy, but it pales when compared to Harry Truman, Richard Nixon and even Bill Clinton. Both Truman and Clinton threatened physical violence against journalists in their time. Clinton threatened to punch William Safire in the face when he called his wife, Hillary Clinton, a congenital liar in a column in the New York Times.

Truman, like Trump, was incensed about how his daughter was being treated. Donald Trump saw Nordstrom’s drop her line of merchandise, their nod to the politically correct Leftists, who now berate the American people in street riots and entertaining YouTube messages filled with the F word.

President Harry Truman directed his anger at a music critic who panned his daughter, Margaret. But Truman was far more belligerent than Donald Trump. He called the writer, an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.”

Said Truman, “It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you’re off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.

“Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!

“Pegler, a gutter snipe, is a gentleman alongside you. I hope you’ll accept that statement as a worse insult than a reflection on your ancestry.”

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To be released: Feb. 28, 2017

Read GAME OF THORNS: Inside the Clinton-Trump campaigns of 2016.

History deprived journalists, some obvious products of the American public school system, without the advantages of a private education, which presidents and their children enjoy, are quick to label everything that Trump is doing as unprecedented and alarming. Which may reveal more about them than about Trump.

The only thing unprecedented is his non political way of running the office. Which is rather comforting to those of us who were hoping he wasn’t a politician.

Read GAME OF THORNS: Inside the Clinton-Trump campaigns of 2016.

And then there is the fact that he seems to be keeping his word. Now, that’s a switch from recent occupants of the White House.

How well we remember.”Read my lips no new taxes.”

Or, “I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.”

Or, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Or, “You can even keep your own doctor.”

No, Trump hasn’t threatened to punch anybody in the nose, like Truman. He doesn’t have a Fiddle and Faddle on staff to service his sexual needs as did allegedly, John F. Kennedy. He hasn’t appointed his best friend to run the IRS, which Hillary Clinton did, who  then just happened to audit the president’s enemies, including the women who accused her husband of sexual assault.

At some point, hyper ventilating, arrogant journalists, who insisted that American had to choose between Trump and Clinton, and no one else, must accept the results of an election they tried to manipulate. So let us get on with restoring the greatness of America.

You journalists have your job, dictating to all the rest of us how to talk and think and live, how about letting us get a paying job for ourselves?

Thanks, President Trump, for Carrier, for Ford and now for Intel. And thanks for refusing to take your own salary. Nobody mentions that. And like all the presidents before you, keep standing up for your daughter! That’s a dad’s right. All dad’s. Even if that dad is president.


Happy Birthday Ronald Reagan, what do you think about Trump?

February 6, 2017

People make comparisons between Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan. They were both actors. Both had been divorced. Both men had been Democrats. Both men had some populist appeal. They were exactly the same on many issues, like their position on abortion.

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Ronald Reagan & Doug Wead

But there were also many differences. President Trump and President Reagan lived in different times. The national media was openly hostile to both men. Reagan didn’t fight back. At least openly. He smiled and waved and mirrored back the idea that people liked him even though he was bitterly despised by the corporate media and the journalists who covered him.

In some cases journalists would defiantly state false numbers and there was no recourse, no internet to quickly arbitrate, and no Twitter for him to use to retaliate.

There is no question in my mind that Reagan would have used Twitter to go over the heads of the media and directly to the hearts of the people. He tried to do that with earned media. And amazingly it worked. The American people knew they were being lied to by many in the media and they deeply resented it. Some knew intellectually, they knew the metrics, others didn’t have time to research the issues but they knew instinctively.

In 1984, after they experienced his presidency for themselves, in spite of the false and mean spirited media narrative, Reagan was re-elected overwhelmingly. He carried every state except Minnesota.And almost took that one too.

Donald Trump has some things going for him. There is Fox News and Fox Business Network. which are more objective, but again, that has driven the mainstream media even more to the Left to compensate. There is Facebook and Twitter.

Reagan was a gentleman, kindly and measured. He was strong but never out of control.

Still, while some would argue with me about this, I suspect that Reagan would be chuckling with delight at Donald Trump’s style and at his effectiveness. We now have this amazing political spectacle. Trump is president but a Court of Appeals in California, along with allies in the media, have just assumed responsibility for the next terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

 


Why Donald Trump is the most impactful president-elect since Abraham Lincoln

December 10, 2016

Okay, sit back down. You’re okay. Breathe. Breathe. You’ll be alright.

I said, “impactful,” okay? “Impactful.” It’s not even a Gates approved word, it underlines red in Microsoft Word. Just relax.

First, lets take a little tour and see some other impactful presidents-elect so you will get a sense of context.

Why Ronald Reagan was a great president-elect

Ronald Reagan made a big impact as a president-elect. He grunted and hummed and winked and whispered and the Iranians released the American hostages even while he was taking the oath of office on inauguration day. He had sent the signals. The Iranians had gotten the message. It didn’t take 8 years. It didn’t even take 8 minutes. Jimmy Carter was still president but we all know why they were released.

Richard Nixon made a big impact as a president-elect. He and Kissinger had agents on the ground in Paris at the peace talks with North Vietnam. Even while LBJ was trying to end the war. Lame duck, President Johnson, could only fume.

Lincoln had to keep Kentucky in the union.

Abraham Lincoln was the most impactful president-elect of all. Lame duck, President James Buchanan was having a 19th century version of a Netflix binge, nobody knew what he was up to, so with the nation being torn apart, Lincoln had to send signals from Springfield, Illinois.

He was trying, among other things, to keep Kentucky in the union and so keep his wife, Mary Todd and her family together. Happy wife, happy life? And happy country too?

Donald Trump best president-elect since Lincoln

Everything Donald Trump has done as president-elect has been impactful and strategic.

His trip to Indiana and involvement with the Carrier Company was hugely symbolic. It said, 1.) I keep my promises, 2.) This administration will be about jobs, 3.) I want it done fast.

Now, I know, the media says that the Carrier Company is only one company and a handful of jobs, he can’t go to every factory. Those jobs are a drop in the bucket.

But a president doesn’t have time to meet with the 2.79 million federal workers in his bureaucracy. They pick up on what he wants by listening to his speeches and by following his actions.

Obama was about giving speeches in the Rose Garden. Trump is about leadership on steroids, showing us by example how to get things done. Before this is over companies will be coming to him with deals that will create more jobs.

Likewise the message to Boeing was clear. You gave a million dollars to the Clinton Foundation and had all of your execs give money to Hillary’s presidential campaign. Now you want government money in return. Well, in the future, companies that want to succeed will do so better by producing products that are of good quality, come in under bid and on time and are actually needed. The day of bribe is over, the new day of supply and demand is back.

Finally, the call from Taiwan shows that everything is on the table. We know what we need from China and what they need from us and the arrangement will have to be more fair.

Changing the rules of history

When Trump delayed in naming his first cabinet officer the media pounced, using a new measurement to judge president-elects. Obama had named his first cabinet officer after three weeks, they said.

But then, lovers of history like yours truly, reminded them that Reagan, Ford, Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush, had all taken six weeks. And when Trump surprised everybody and named off cabinet picks, pop, pop, pop, the media moved the goal posts. The rules had changed. President-elects would henceforth be judged by something else, we will find it, just be patient. It will be something that Trump doesn’t do well.

The fact is, whether he is a good president or not remains to be seen, but like it or not, he is indeed an impactful president-elect. Even a great one. He is sending signals that need to be sent. He is a leader.  And whether he got 40 jobs out of Carrier or 4,000 misses the point. It’s 40 more than any other president-elect has ever gotten before.

Donald Trump has come out of the gate fast.

 

 

 

 


Behind the scenes of Trump and Boeing and why the Donald is so fast out of the gate.

December 6, 2016

A little history will help us understand the President-Elect and his relationship with Boeing. In 2009 Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton went to Moscow to secure a multi-billion-dollar deal for aircraft built by the Boeing Company.

In return, Boeing threw in $2 million towards the World Fair, even though the State Department had said it would not solicit funds from them and would keep all donations from U.S. companies at the $1 million level.

The World’s Fair was considered one of Secretary Clinton’s first successes at the State Department. Afterward, a grateful Boeing went on to donate nearly $1 million to the Clinton Foundation, as well, reportedly, encouraging its corporate leadership to participate in fundraising efforts for her presidential campaign. Boeing insisted that the deal with Russia had no bearing on their decision to donate to the Clinton Foundation, nor their donations to Clinton herself.

Boeing, and many other big corporations bet the house on Hillary, knowing they would win big for their investments when Hillary came to power and opened the government coffers.

One cannot blame the Donald for toying with them.

And no one should waste tears on the corrupt leadership at Boeing who knew full well what they were doing when they signed on with the Clinton’s.

Now, let’s talk about Taiwan.

They are saying that President Elect Donald Trump – messing with China – is unprecedented. He has to wait until he takes the oath of office. Those who love Hillary say what he is doing is dangerous. Those who love Obama say it is disrespectful. Those who love to be pundits on television say it has never happened before.

Sorry. They’re all wrong. There is nothing wrong with Trump sending signals. He should be sending signals.

 

Reagan messed with Iran as the President Elect and they let the hostages go even as he was taking the oath of office. It didn’t take eight years. It didn’t even take eight minutes.

Nixon messed with  North Vietnam, even though he was still only the President Elect. He even had envoys on the ground in Paris because he and Kissinger wanted to end the war their own way. Lyndon Johnson, a lame duck president, had to endure it.

I, myself, once met a head of state and passed a message from a President Elect. And if I can do it, well, it ain’t no big deal.

Perhaps the most important president elect in history was Abraham Lincoln. He had to say and do things quickly. The union was falling apart and the incumbent, James Buchanan was doing the 19th Century version of binge watching Netflix and wouldn’t come up for air.

So there is nothing wrong with a president-elect getting to work early.

The Trump critics can’t seem to make up their mind. First they say that his visit to the Carrier plant means nothing, it was only a few jobs, it was a drop in the bucket, the president can’t visit every plant. Then they say he is threatening world war three by talking to Taiwan.

The truth is that the Carrier incident was loaded with symbolism and was very important. It demonstrates that the president-elect is serious about jobs, will keep his promises, is going to act fast and expects the bureaucracy to pick up his style and follow suit. A president has to lead and not just stand in the White House Rose Garden and lecture the nation. Trump’s visit to Carrier in Indiana was leadership on steroids.

So too, the signal to China was important. It was a reminder that the United States has options. Yes, we want peace with China. Yes, we want to be able to buy their cheap products. Yes, we need their markets for our exports. But we cannot let our wishful thinking cause us to give away the store.

And Boeing? That is a signal to the corrupt corporate insiders who gave their bribes to the Clinton’s expecting a return on their investment. Want to be a success during a Trump administration? Build good products at a good price. Rely less on bribes.