Billy Graham was a pernicious influence on the White House

Despite lifelong claims that he was uninterested in power and profit, Graham was gravitationally drawn to both.

In 1960, Graham mobilized evangelicals against John F. Kennedy, maintaining Kennedy’s Catholicism rendered him unfit. (The irony!) Lyndon Johnson reportedly wanted Graham to join his Cabinet.

“I almost used the White House as a hotel when Johnson was president,” Graham told his biographer Marshall Frady. “He was always trying to keep me there. He just never wanted me to leave.”

Graham was also close to Richard Nixon — so close that Graham took it upon himself to draft a secret 13-page plan to bomb North Vietnam. In his book “The Golden Age Is In Us: Journeys and Encounters,” Alexander Cockburn cites a declassified 1969 memo Graham wrote after meeting with missionaries in Bangkok. Graham’s plan, he wrote to Nixon, “could overnight destroy the economy of North Vietnam.”

Had Nixon followed through, that strike could have killed an estimated million people.