Marvin Olasky

At commencement ceremonies next month and early in June, speakers orating about glorious vistas for graduates will encounter worried minds. Many students fear that their careers will lack purpose and their jobs will be dull. Most colleges these days send out their students with a series of unconnected factoids. Some provide real education. Few if any expose their students to enough older people who have had exciting careers and are still passionate about their callings.

I've written about many passionate people over the years, and it strikes me that such folks are often driven by God or by internal forces. Either way, they—like Elijah, like Winston Churchill—are not happy, happy, happy, happy, happy all the time, and they sometimes enrage both friends and foes. Exhibit A: Michael Horowitz, whose Hudson Institute office wall exhibits plaques with names like "Wilberforce Award" that signify his frequent recognition by human-rights organizations.

Many evangelical groups have honored Horowitz, who graduated from Yale Law School in 1964. Even though he's Jewish, Southern Baptists in 1997 named him one of the top 10 Christians of the year. From his Washington roost Horowitz has built coalitions that have pushed bureaucrats to act against Sudanese and North Korean oppression and many other evil mini-empires. But at melancholy moments Horowitz questions himself: "Have I done enough? I don't know."

Last month Horowitz put together a coalition to support passage of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which could help millions of girls and women enslaved for prostitution throughout the world. Among the signatories to his petition: Gary Bauer and Tony Campolo, Janice Crouse (Concerned Women for America) and Kim Gandy (National Organization for Women), and many others from both right and left. Someone who can pull together such opposites must generate saintly goodwill, right?

Not exactly. Lots of Washingtonians who have worked with Horowitz over the past quarter-century can't stand him. That's because he quickly labels those who don't agree with his policy proposals as not just wrong but "contemptible." On the phone he badgers. He screams. His flow of sharp words rarely stops before 20 minutes have gone by. Asked why he can't just call an opponent "wrong," he says, "That's how I'm built. That's the way I am. I'm a short-timer. I can't stop now."

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the national news magazine World. For additional commentary by Marvin Olasky, visit
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