Last week, I introduced a two-part series on rising stars in the world of progressive politics. The subject of Part One was my old friend, Steve Novick, who I increasingly believe has a legitimate chance to become the Junior U.S. Senator from the State of
Moreover, Novick leads in all the polls and has a fair amount of momentum. So even though you still have to pinch me when I hear the words “Senator Novick,” I must recognize that there’s no one in Oregon – neither a Democrat nor a Republican – who I’d put as a clear favorite against him. Considering that Novick has never before been elected to office at ANY level … he is truly a rising star.
Today, though, I’d like to talk about a star with an even more rapid trajectory. She, like Novick, belongs to a tiny minority in American politics today. Novick is in the class of political figures who are shorter than 4’ 10” and have only one arm. But the person I’d like to highlight today is in a group that is every bit as minute -- out-of-the-closet lesbians. Surely you can name many such individuals who are influential in the political world. What? You can’t name one? Well, other than this lady, neither can I.
The woman I have in mind claims to be the first out-of-the-closet lesbian to be a Rhodes Scholar. The Stanford grad matriculated in
Do you know who I’m referring to? Most Americans wouldn’t. Would it help if I added that her radio show has the evening drive time slot on Air
(when you get to this site, type in "Maddow schools Scarborough")
The rising star’s name, as you all can tell by now, is Rachel Maddow. She is nothing short of the answer to my prayers for a progressive talking head who is likeable, sharp as a tack, and extremely knowledgeable about public policy. She always keeps her cool, is never shrill, and seems to be always at peace with her role as a debater for progressive causes. Whereas many of her fellow progressive talking heads (e.g., Randy Rhodes) prefer childish ridicule to logic, Rachel doesn’t allow her arguments to become puerile. In fact, she is that rare bird who is off the charts quick witted AND thoughtful -- a deadly pair, especially when combined with her incredible poise.
If you think I’m exaggerating, watch those exchanges with
By the time that the second video was made, you’d think
Masterful stuff. To a politics junky like me, it’s like watching a guy make a 50 foot double breaking putt, or a circus catch in the end zone. Whether you’re talking about politics, golf, or football, when you see a real professional, you just want to stand up and applaud.
It will take a while before someone like Rachel Maddow can become beloved throughout
I’ve always been one who enjoys friendships with people on various points throughout that spectrum. I have even gone so far as to say that I consider Ronald Reagan, whose substantive views I disagree with on virtually every issue, as one of my political heroes, due to his integrity, candor, self-assurance, and clarity of vision. We need to stop judging political figures primarily by whether we agree with their philosophies, but rather by whether they exhibit the character and talent needed to make our public sphere as vibrant as possible. I may yet turn out to be wrong, but my hunch is that Rachel Maddow will pass this test with flying colors. I encourage you to listen to her show on Air