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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rachel Maddow

I've got a crush on Rachel Maddow. Not that kind of crush; more like an intellectual crush. And she's emerged from the Trump election more popular than ever, and certainly more relevant than ever.

I read about her before I ever saw her--The Nation did an article about her when she was a host on Air America radio, and I believe had just signed with MSNBC. So I was there from the beginning, in 2008, during the heady days of the first Obama campaign. For most of the eight years of her show's history, she's been broadcasting during a Democratic presidency.

And it was a good time to be a Democrat. Obama, despite a few minor slips, was a great president, and liberals could feel almost smug, figuring that we had a lock on the electoral college and there would never be a Republican president again, at least not for the foreseeable future.

But then the unthinkable happened, and liberals everywhere, wandering around shocked and dazed, have sought comfort. There have been marches--my dad marched in one of the Women's Day marches and said it was great to feel like one was among same-thinking people--that not everyone had gone mad. And social media sites have exploded with "resistance" memes. Today my page is flooded with angry responses to the cutting of Meals on Wheels, which annually costs less than one of Trump's visits to Mar-a-Lago.

And we go to our TV sets or laptops or iPhones or wherever we watch our news, and the acknowledged voice of liberalism on television is Maddow. Her ratings have skyrocketed. When Obama was in office, we were content, and didn't need to get fired up, but now we need to hear the antidote to fake news and alternate facts--we need facts, period.

There are a lot of reasons Maddow is terrific. One is that she's so fucking smart. While Fox News plays to the idiocracy (their viewers are the least-informed of any, even lower than people who don't watch news), Maddow's show is aimed at the informed viewer, She's a Rhodes scholar, while Sean Hannity didn't even graduate college. She actually does the research, and while she's clearly biased to the left, she backs up what she says with facts. She doesn't really express her opinion--she simply states facts, and those frame what her opinion is.

I don't watch her show every night, but I do at least try to catch her opening monologue, which can go on for twenty minutes. Often it's like a mini-drama, starting with one story, which leads to her main story. She doesn't shout or scream, though she does have pregnant pauses and looks that are like daggers--you can see the thought balloon above her head saying "So stupid."

She certainly has her detractors, and the whole brouhaha about Trump's taxes seems like a trap she fell into. Trump leaked one tax return that made him look honest, and she fell for it. But last night she moved on to the defeat of the Muslim ban in a Hawaii court, where she was on solid ground and had something to celebrate.

But why do I have a crush on a cable-TV news host? Because from what I've read and seen, she seems so awesome. She likes to fish, she's an expert on mixology, and she's most comfortable in jeans and sneakers. When I lived in New Jersey I had half a mind to apply to be on her staff, but the other half of mind won out and I never did. I could be totally wrong, but she seems like she would be cool to work for--you'd do a lot of research, but it would be rewarding. This is unlike Keith Olbermann, who though I agree with almost 100 percent, is an acknowledged egomaniac and impossible to work with. Maddow just seems so damn friendly. I'd love to have a few cocktails with her and just shoot the breeze.

And I have a fantasy about her--no, not that kind of fantasy. I hope one day she runs for office. Scott Brown, when he ran for re-election in 2012, created a straw woman by claiming Maddow would run against (her permanent residence is in Massachusetts). She denied running, and instead Elizabeth Warren knocked him out of the Senate. But eventually I would love it if she ran for congress. She'd be great at questioning witnesses--imagine her going after Betsy DeVos, or Tom Price, or Scott Pruitt. She'd be fantastic, a born legislator.

But if that day never comes, we'll still have her fighting the good fight from her studio in New York, the Edward R. Murrow of her day, not "normalizing" anyone and conceding the bullshit.

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