For decades, presidents and presidential wannabes have sought the blessing of the nation's best-known preacher.Religion, says Christensen, remains a powerful force in American politics:
The evangelist, 91, doesn't endorse any more, having been burned by his close relationship with President Richard Nixon, who was Graham's idea of a Christian statesman until Graham listened to the Watergate tapes.
Graham, a registered Democrat, has befriended presidents of both parties. In many ways, his role in American life has transcended politics.
Sometimes people ask me to explain Palin's political appeal - she is among the leading candidates for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. It is not so much about issues and ideology. She was a fairly pragmatic governor of Alaska.What Christensen and his McClatchy Newspaper colleagues fail to understand is that Sarah Palin's supporters are quite familiar with the former governor's presidential credentials. We compared them with those of Barack Obama over a year ago, noted his lack of executive experience and found hers to be the more impressive resume.
It is about going rogue, as her book title suggests, about class politics, and about the power of religion.
Which is why approving comments from Billy Graham are far more important to her supporters than questions pundits raise about her presidential credentials.
The full op-ed is here.