Friend in the End
I read Vivian Gornick’s review of the new biography of Diana Trilling with much interest [“Getting Even,” June 19/26]. I knew Diana Trilling well and wrote about our friendship in one chapter of my forthcoming memoir, She Read to Us in the Late Afternoons: A Life in Novels. We met by accident in Venice and became friends in New York City; a generation younger than she, I immediately recognized her as the wise woman I was looking for, with whom I could talk about anything.
Years later, as her macular degeneration worsened, she told me her greatest sorrow was that she’d never again read Proust. So we set out together to read the whole of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, a project that took us six years to complete and that, week by week, deepened our intimacy. No question Diana was a warrior, and a fierce one, right to the end. She was also hilariously funny and often changed her opinions. In the last years of her life, with bleak honesty, she mulled over how she’d been seen by others. She told me that when she was starting out, she’d written a scathing review of a novel by Eudora Welty, but that Welty had forgiven her. “I was just showing off,” Diana said. “I needn’t have been so harsh.” At the last, Diana achieved a rare happiness, an enviable self-understanding that saw her through.
new york city
John Nichols is one of my favorite writers, but I strongly disagree with his argument in favor of Democrats pushing to impeach Donald Trump [“For Impeachment,” June 19/26]. His incomplete analysis ignores Vice President Mike Pence and fails to compare a Trump-for-Pence trade. Nichols erroneously implies that the only reason some progressives oppose impeachment is to improve our electoral chances. This ignores two other critical reasons:
First, Pence would successfully enact much more right-wing policy, as he is a true believer, much more competent, and would get a public-opinion honeymoon for rescuing the country from a lunatic. Pence would be much more likely, for example, to cut Social Security, enact national right-to-work legislation, eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, and try to restrict gay marriage.
Second, a focus on impeachment would divert progressive energy away from the less glamorous, but much more important, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and policy advocacy that is necessary to build the progressive movement that Nichols has long envisioned in his writings.
If a constitutional case for impeachment can be made, let the Republicans take responsibility; after all, they “birthed” Trump in the first place. Democrats should support a Republican-led impeachment, of course, which could drive Midwestern working-class whites away from the Republican Party. As disgusting as Trump is, progressives need to focus their efforts in the next four years on grassroots mobilization and on blocking destructive policies that would hurt the American people. Both of these goals are better served with Trump than Pence.
ann arbor, mich.
Though centrist media outlets like CNN, and some on the left, have for weeks been vigorously pursuing the scent of a bloodied President Trump, our first president to be hounded by scandal since his inauguration, I cannot get the least bit excited about the prospect of impeachment, however legitimate it may be. The reason why is obvious: A Pence presidency is anathema to me.
Trump, while a potentially corrupt, self-serving, Russia-loving plutocrat, would still be preferable to Mike Pence, unless his transgressions are so far over the line that we cannot allow him to continue—which they would certainly have to be for a Republican-dominated House to impeach him.
A better use of our energies would be to work on a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Electoral College. It is scandalous that Hillary Clinton won almost 3 million more votes than Trump and yet lost the election. This is remarkably undemocratic. In the early 1900s, American states ratified a constitutional amendment to allow for the democratic election of senators, who had previously been elected by state legislators per the founders’ crafting of the US Constitution. It is long overdue that we now democratically elect the US president.
It speaks to America’s peculiar political demographics as they have formed over the past 20 years that Trump’s win is the second recent Electoral College victory trumping the popular vote (Bush over Gore in 2000 was the first). That salient political phenomenon coincides with deliberate Republican gerrymandering for political gain, causing the House to end up under Republican control as well.
I wrote my Ohio senator, Sherrod Brown, encouraging him to vote for a constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College. He wrote back to say that such a bill had been introduced in the House.
Though such a constitutional amendment is unlikely to gain support among Republicans, it’s time for the left and Democrats to start a movement to abolish the Electoral College—and to democratically elect the president of the United States.
David Maxwell Fine
Defending the Fourth Estate
I have to thank Laila Lalami for her piece on Trump’s attitude toward the American press corps [“Free Press Under Assault,” June 19/26]. In 30 years as a journalist in three different states, I never had to deal with such persistent liars in high places. Nor were any of my reporters manhandled. Even when photographing Mafia members (who sometimes went after our cameras), none of us were treated as Ben Jacobs of The Guardian was by GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte.
I would edit one sentence that Lalami wrote to read: “There appears to be no political price to pay for violence, as long as it’s committed by a GOP member taking down a reporter.”
Rev. Emmalou Kirchmeier
Backlash as Whiplash
The unrelenting longevity of the anti-feminist movement going back to the 1970s, and the continuing involvement of so many women in anti-feminist activities to this day, as Kim Phillips-Fein pointed out in her informative review of Marjorie Spruill’s book Divided We Stand [“The Two Women’s Movements,” June 19/26], has always baffled me, to say the least. However, as I approached my 75th year on this planet last November, what I found to be the most shocking political event in my lifetime wasn’t only the election of Donald Trump to the White House, but the utterly incomprehensible motivations of well over half of our white female voters in putting him there. Where did we go wrong?