What actually fueled the rise of Trump was the increasingly vitriolic and disrespectful comments made about President Obama and liberals. John McCain called Obama “delusional”; other conservatives on Fox News or talk radio or elsewhere said Obama was “out of touch with reality” and “unhinged.” Conservatives’ rhetoric got bolder and louder as each one tried to out-insult the other. Trump, the insulter in chief, benefited from this competition. Flanagan admits that “Trump has it coming”; however, she’s not ready to acknowledge that Trump is conservative hosts’ baby. Which is why the idea that late-night comedy has alienated conservatives is ridiculous; they don’t watch late-night comedians excoriate Trump any more than I watch Fox News hosts spew their silly garbage.
And on the alienation thing: Why is it that the country is divided only when conservatives get angry? I remember conservatives’ outrage over affirmative action. They said it was “polarizing,” as if racial discrimination is not. Conservatives, apparently, can dish it but can’t take it.
Smug? No. But even a worm will turn.
Advice and Consent
A reader offers a trivia lesson about May’s Very Short Book Excerpt, “How to Kill a Lake.”
It’s a minor item, but in your recent book excerpt from Dan Egan’s The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, the author states, “If Lake Michigan were drained, it would now be possible to walk almost the entire 100 miles between Wisconsin and Michigan on a bed of … quagga mussels.” While we do like to spin Paul Bunyan stories about “our” Great Lakes here in Michigan, I’m afraid I must report that the longest interstate width, Milwaukee to Grand Haven, is roughly 85 miles. Intrepid souls can cross 118 miles from Michigan to Michigan, or it’s approximately 62 miles from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to Big Sable Point, Michigan, for less ambitious walkers. Either way, bring robust walking shoes; that’s still a lot of sharp mussel shells.
Beverly Hills, Mich.
(On TheAtlantic.com, readers answered June’s Big Question and voted on one another’s responses. Here are the top vote-getters.)
5. The last man on the moon, the astronaut Eugene Cernan, left his daughter’s initials behind for eternity.
— Ed Gawdzik
4. Thelma and Louise joyously driving at top speed over a cliff—credits roll.
— Margaret Whitt
3. Socrates crushed his persecutors’ arguments, took his poison, and left a legacy that has lasted through the ages.
— Gary Kohl
2. It has to be Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and dying on the same day, exactly 50 years after the date on the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1826.
— E. Diane DaCosta
1. George Washington leaving the presidency. He provided the example of serving only two terms, a precedent that was followed by every president until 1940, and later was written into the Constitution. In his farewell address, he warned the country against becoming involved in the internal affairs of foreign countries, advice that is as valid today as it was in 1796.
— Jerry Weaver
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