If I had to make a list of the people I miss most by living out here on the world's elbow, Rachel Maddow would be somewhere near the top. It is possible to occasionally get a re-broadcast of one of her shows on Okinawa, but those occurrences are rare at best. It is much easier to to access the screwy blatherings of Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, or the especially odious Rush Limbaugh.
But I miss Rachel, and the things that I miss about her are the things that keep conservative America so riled up: she is ferociously intellectual, able to speak in clear and coherent sentences that cut straight to the heart of the matter, funny, insightful, and is not afraid to research a topic before she starts talking about it on the air. Add to that the fact that she is a highly respected female journalist who also just happens to be gay, and she becomes a perfect bogeyman for America's right-wing knuckle-draggers.
(Just a couple of years ago Massachusetts centerfold senator, Scott Brown, spent several months raising campaign cash by telling his redneck followers that Maddow was definitely going to run for his senate seat. It was going to be Armageddon, and the only way to stop the evil journalist was to send money to the Brown campaign! The devious Senator Brown managed to stir up a nice little pile of cash with that bald-faced lie.)
But not everyone fears or hates the intelligent and well-spoken Ms. Maddow. It was recently announced that she will be the recipient of this year's John Steinbeck Award, also known as the Souls of the People Award. It is presented by the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University on an annual basis to a person who exemplifies the late author's values. The recipients are artists, thinkers, and activists who make significant contributions that matter to the common person.
Thomas Steinbeck, the son of the famous author, said that his father "would have adored Rachel Maddow." He undoubtedly would have adored her, just as millions of us do. She tells hard truths and challenges us to listen to our better angels. Rachel Maddow is in tune with the souls of people, and she is an inspiration to those who are brave enough to hear what she has to say.
The Martha Heasley Cox Center has certainly outdone itself with this year's selection of Rachel Maddow to receive this award. She personifies the best in us all.