This past Saturday evening, I had the supreme pleasure of watching Rachel Maddow walk onto the stage of the Morris Daily Auditorium at San Jose State University wearing black sneakers with bright blue stripes and pink socks. She was on the SJSU campus to receive the John Steinbeck Award. Presented by The Center for Steinbeck Studies, the award is given to “artists and activists whose work exemplifies values found in the writings of John Steinbeck: a concern for the natural environment, a commitment to the common people, and the courage to critique the contrasts between the powerful and the poor.”
I was pleased to hear that Ms. Maddow is a local girl, having been born and raised in Castro Valley. She graduated from , received her bachelor’s degree in public policy from in 1994, and her doctorate in political science from Oxford University, which she attended on a Rhodes Scholarship as the first openly gay American to win a Rhodes Scholarship.
During the hour and a half interview with KGO’s Pat Thurston, Maddow talked about her career in talk radio, hosting her own show on MSNBC, as well as a few political issues of the day like the , gay marriage, and the upcoming 2012 election. When asked what she thought made her successful as a radio host and personality, Maddow answered that it basically boiled down to her detail in explaining issues, rather than being the liberal activist many of her critics paint her as – but make no mistake, she is PROUD to be a Liberal.
My favorite quote was when she was asked what she thought of those who hate her and she said it comes from them not wanting to hear what’s wrong.
“I sometimes think that hate and that reactionary position comes from a love of country, you don’t want to be told that there is anything wrong…,” Maddow said.
The much-too-short evening was closed by the presentation of the John Steinbeck Award by Steinbeck’s oldest son, Thomas, who said his father’s job was “to reconnect humans with their own humanity” and that he believed his father would have been “absolutely fascinated and intrigued by Rachel Maddow and her role as a first-class observer and commentator of the political agendas that now embroil our country…”