The Preacher and the Presidents

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That’s the title of a new book, written by my supremely talented colleagues Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, about Billy Graham and his relationships with Presidents of both parties, going back to Dwight Eisenhower. It’s coming out this week, and we’ll be publishing excerpts in the dead-tree TIME that comes out on Friday. That same day, ABC will be running a one-hour, prime-time special on the book.

Graham gave the writers many, many hours of interviews, as did the powerful people who turned to him for pastoral counseling. What’s remarkable–and admirable–about Graham is how he did his pastoral work in private, on a personal level, at a time when the Jerry Falwells and James Dobsons of the world were flexing their political muscles publicly.

Gibbs and Duffy give us a preview today on, with a story on how lifelong Methodist Hillary Clinton turned to Graham during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Clinton herself describes their talks:

At that time, Clinton says, Graham was “incredibly supportive to me personally. And he was very strong in saying, ‘I really understand what you’re doing and I support you.’ He was just very personally there for me.”
She added: “The entire world was judging my decisions and my actions and there weren’t very many people who, frankly, were understanding, and he was. He said, ‘You know, forgiveness is the hardest thing that we’re called upon to do. And we all face it at some point in our lives and I’m just really proud of you for taking it on.”