02/14/2012 10:55 am ET | Updated Apr 15, 2012

Gushing Over Graham, or, How Much is That Anti-Semite in the Window?

Soon after the National Prayer Breakfast all I heard were people like Chris Matthews and President Obama gushing over the wondrous Billy Graham and what a soulful person he is. I found all that adulation a bit disconcerting especially from Matthews who likes to think of himself as a political historian. Not as smug as O'Donnell, but Matthews clearly likes to recall the Tip O'Neill days and, of course, those halcyon Kennedy days whenever he has a chance to plug his book. No problem, I like Matthews in spite of the fact his mouth works faster than his thought processes and once one gets passed O'Donnell's self-righteousness they're formidable adversaries of the far right.

But back to the recent National Prayer Breakfast. Obama said of a meeting he had with Graham, "I can still remember winding up the path up a mountain to his home," Pres. Obama recalled. "Ninety-one years old at the time, facing various health challenges, he welcomed me as he would welcome a family member or a close friend. Before I left, Reverend Graham started praying for me, as he had prayed for so many Presidents before me. And when he finished praying, I felt the urge to pray for him." Of course, Obama isn't going to go negative on Graham since that would be the death knell for any presidential incumbent. After all, Graham was the "spiritual aide" to every President since, I don't know, Lincoln, but broadcasters, even the "progressive" ones, aren't going to touch the obvious; namely, Graham was (and presumably still is) anti-Semitic. Don't take my word for it, take his.

In 2002 the National Archives released a tape of a conversation Graham had with Nixon in the Oval Office. Ironically, it came after the National Prayer breakfast in 1972. Here's a bit of that conversation, "This stranglehold (i.e. the Jewish one) has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain," said Graham who went on to agree with more anti-Jewish Nixonian comments. "You believe that?" Nixon goes on. "Yes, sir," Graham says. "Oh, boy," counters Nixon. "So do I. I can't ever say that but I believe it." Graham continues, "No, but if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something," During the same exchange, Graham says he has Jewish "friends" in the media, who "swarm around me and are friendly to me." But, he continues, "They don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country."

So, on the 40th anniversary of those comments, one wonders what exactly the devout Reverend Graham was thinking about when he made those stranglehold comments. Though according to H.R. Haldeman in his "The Haldeman Diaries," Haldeman noted the conversation. In his Tuesday, Feb. 1, 1972 entry, Haldeman wrote "There was discussion of the terrible problem arising from the total Jewish domination of the media, and agreement that this was something that would have to be dealt with" (Diaries, 405). According to James Warren, a Chicago Tribune staff reporter, in an article dated March 1, 2002, Haldeman also said that, "Graham has the strong feeling that the Bible says there are satanic Jews and there's where our problem arises." Satanic Jews? And what kind of Jew would that be? One that isn't kosher? Or, perhaps, one that hangs out with Woody Allen while filming? Warren also goes on to write that, "Haldeman also wrote that after Graham left, Nixon was allowed to spew epithets freely saying that, 'You know it was good we got this point about the Jews across. It's a shocking point,' writes Haldeman. 'Well,' says Nixon, 'it's also, the Jews are irreligious, atheistic, immoral bunch of bastards.'" So, not only are Jews Satanic, but they're a bunch of irreligious, atheistic and immoral bastards. This coming from the Chief "I am not a crook" Watergate conspirator. Since he didn't say they were unethical, then, presumably, the insults held.

But the anti-Jewish sentiment didn't stop there. No, eventually, as Warren reports, Nixon would bring up the topic of Hollywood Jewishdom which is what "we can't talk about it publicly." To prove his point he talks about the NBC comedy show, "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," telling Graham that "11 of the 12 writers are Jewish" and then goes on to rant about how Jews dominate the national media before he gives the line that "not all Jews are bad" only the radical ones. One might think that at any time, Reverend Graham would have interjected that Nixon was going beyond the pale and that his anti-Semitic views were a bit over the top especially in relation to what the Bible preaches. Apparently, that didn't happen. Likewise, in a June 24, 2009 USA article written by Cathy Lynn Grossman, one reads that in a conversation Nixon had with Graham the latter spoke of a "synagogue of Satan" which clearly relates to Haldeman's alleged comments about Satanic Jews. Grossman goes on to write about a discussion between Nixon and Graham revealed in the tapes about Jews in which the latter tells Nixon how Jews "befriend him," but, "They don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country."

One wonders what the Jews are doing to this country and what have they done to the country since the malfeasance of office that was Watergate and the malfeasance of office that was Iraq War both of which were instigated by non-Jews. I'm certain that Graham has done some admirable things in his decades as an evangelist, but, sadly, swallowing his prejudices has not been one of them.