Watch Rachel Maddow on Letterman, Listen to Her on Fresh Air, Then Win a Copy of “Drift!”

Have you thought about Rachel Maddow in the last 24 hours? There’s a pretty good chance you have. After all, she was on Letterman last night, and he called her “probably the smartest person in all of journalism.” It would be hard to disagree, even if you wanted to.

And if that’s not enough Maddow for you, you’re in luck: she’s also on NPR’s Fresh Air today! The 45-minute interview (which you can listen to online) covers topics like the process of making the show, Maddow’s years as a student, and why she thinks humor is important:

“I think that humor has underappreciated explanatory value. If you are trying to explain something to a broad audience, using humor is sometimes a way to help people either make a leap in logic with you or shorthand to what’s important about something. Usually when I use humor on the show, it’s in the form of absurdity. I’ve pointed out something that somebody says is normal that I think is not normal, or something that should be seen as very serious that I don’t think deserves seriousness. You can explain that away or you can poke fun at it, but sometimes it’s not only shorter to poke fun at it, but also more effective at moving the argument along.”

And also, of course, American military policy, national intelligence, and public disconnect from America’s wars abroad. Because Maddow’s new book, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, comes out today, and it’s an incisive look at the way “we’ve drifted away from America’s original ideals and become a nation weirdly at peace with perpetual war, with all the financial and human costs that entails.” (Also, in case you were worried, it’s also been described as “scathingly funny.” Obviously.)

This is excellent news! What’s even better news is that you have the chance to win a signed copy. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling us one question you’d want to ask Rachel Maddow if you got to have lunch with her — about her book or otherwise. As of midnight EST on Thursday, the comments will be tallied and a randomized winner will be chosen! Good luck, because she looks really dreamy on the back of this book jacket, and you’re going to want to have this on your coffee table (bedside table?) for sure.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 759 articles for us.

87 Comments

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    I’m meeting Rachel Maddow Saturday night! Would it be creepy to ask where she lives? Purely for non-stalkery reasons, of course.

    (don’t enter me in the contest, I’ll be acquiring a signed copy shortly anyway)

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    I have so many questions I want to ask Rachel Maddow! I mean, I wrote two essays about why she is my hero (8th grade, 2008, and 9th grade, 2009). I would LOVE to just meet her in person and have a full conversation, but if I can only pick one question…

    Many people would say that America is no longer the “great” nation it appeared to be throughout most of the 20th century. If you agree with that assertion, what do you think was the turning point? If you disagree, why do you think people feel that way?

    Even if I don’t win the signed copy, I’m so excited to add her book to my reading list!

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    This is what I would ask:

    On your show, you often claim to be a pessimist. And yet, in the face of politics that seem to be ever veering to the very far and very scary right, you manage to keep believing that Americans can have good and real political discourse. How can we make that discourse more of a reality?

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    That interview with npr was amazing, the fact that she talks about coping with cyclical depression so openly and honestly is beyond refreshing. Not to mention that she at 17 sounds exactly the same as me at 17 (which is now). So much Rachel is one day <3
    I'm seeing her in DC and getting a signed book, so no need to enter me in the contest!

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    well, the Berkeley book tour stop sold out before I could get tickets, so I’ll aim for a chance at signed book:

    So, Rachel Maddow…you have stated in the past that you are not interested in running for government office. But, in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse which leaves only you, 80 Democrats, 30 Independents and 100 GOP congresspeople as survivors, would you then be motivated to run for office? And, if so, who would you choose as a running mate? Keep in mind that any specific person you name would have survived The Apocalypse and you would need support from Independents – and possibly some GOPS – to win the election.

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    I’ve known this forever, and I bumped into Rachel a couple of years ago and was so awestruck I forgot to ask her (we spoke about net neutrality though, that was cool).

    Here’s what I’d ask her: Rachel, you’re a mixologist – a damn good one. I love the endearing pretention you have about cocktails (“don’t eat the garnish” “no vodka martinis”). But what I want to know is, what did you drink in college?

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    If I could ask her one question it would go as follows:

    “Uh…*nervous smile* Hello. Are you in need of an intern, a personal assistant, or can I just shadow you for a day?”

    Yeah, so that way I could spend all day picking her brain.

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    I would ask her how she thinks real change happens. Is it through working in the government and changing it from the inside out? Is it through working in business and making that better? Is it through media? Where can you have the biggest impact, and how do you choose where you go with what you’ve got?

    I’m clearly just getting to the career part of my life.

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    I would ask her:
    What countries would you consider moving to if Rick Santorum is elected and what about the countries do you like (other than the absence of Santorum)?

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    I would ask her what the best/most influential book she’s read is.

    Also, I almost-literally ran into her as I was going into Corner Bistro on my birthday last September (she was leaving) – it was basically the best birthday present ever.

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    I already ordered a copy of Drift and will meet her when she comes to DC next month! And I’ve had my question ready for years:
    “Will you marry, adopt or employ me (in no particular order)?”

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    Why do you allow Msnbc to transform you into what they think is a commercial image with awful eyeshadow and contacts? Don’t you know your glasses are 30% of your smexiness?

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      She actually talks about this in the Fresh Air interview. It was interesting – she said she’s striving for, essentially, visual neutrality, so that viewers can focus on what she’s saying and not how she looks.

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    I would ask her to be friends with me because there’s a small chance that she might say yes and then if that really did happen then i would later have the possibility of asking her all the questions i could ever want to ask (within reason) and so on the odd chance that this comment gets me the chance to get a signed book which could possibly involve me maybe meeting her to get that book signed through posting this comment and then maybe i could actually talk to her and ask her my question this will be my answer and i’m really sorry if this is rambly and less than sensical but i am really really high on ganja coconut oil right now and i just really want to get this out there because i think this is just a really good idea and i love you all and i really hope you all are happy in your lives at this and every moment because you deserve it so very much. peace <3

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    A question for the one and only Rachel Maddow: What do you think would be the best way to create a greater space for intersectional issues in political discourse? Can pundits help with this without going too far? And, can we be friends, please?

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    I actually set my phone to remind me of Rachel Maddow’s existence once every hour. That way, if I get too busy and forget to fawn over her, I get a quick reminder. It’s worth waking up every hour at night. Rachel is worth the terrible sleep and the fact that my boss probably hates hearing my phone go off throughout my shift. Who needs work and sleep when there’s Rachel Maddow in the world? Breathing and stuff. *sigh*

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    My question: “when are you going to do an interview with Autostraddle?”

    Also, Rachel’s reading the audiobook version of ‘Drift’ so I’m definitely getting that from the library. She can whisper in my ears about the military industrial complex anytime.

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    Glad to know I am not the only drooling, swooning fansie.

    Serious question:

    “What do you think about dismantling the two party political system?”

    Not-so-serious question, but said in utterly earnest seriousness:

    “Can I have your baby?”

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    i’d ask: how do you think the notions of the american dream and america’s much bandied-about claim to be the best country in the world fit within today’s global society? are they still or have they ever been valid concepts?

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    Gahhh can’t decide between asking her about comic books or prisoner advocacy.

    I think I’d ask her what her favorite comic book is. Because when the stakes are high, the part of my brain that enables me to sometimes sound like I know what I’m talking about shuts down.

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    Where do you see (a) this country and (b) yourself in 30 years? Will you be the white-haired host of TRMS? Is the US going to get it together?
    I LOVED the Fresh Air episode. I always imagined that someone forcibly applied the eyeshadow and ripped off the glasses, but it sounds like it’s her choice. Too bad.

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      I find the eye shadow quite unfortunate. Ellen was
      Into black eyeliner for awhile, looked like a Raccoon.
      Question:
      What if the only alternative to private military
      Contractors was the draft?

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    This is exciting! I can’t wait to read Drift when school gets out for the summer. Here’s my question:

    Capitalism, which requires competition to truly succeed, and democracy, which requires egalitarianism to truly succeed, seem to be at constant odds in our country over the past century, even though it seems that the framers of the Constitution attempted to lay the groundwork for both. Do you believe that one will eventually crush the other? Why or why not?

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    I think right now the only question I want to ask her is why the hell isn’t she coming to Colorado for this book tour? Kansas City but not Denver? For real? I need to see her lovely face.

    Also I really want to ask her if she can talk to her producers about that whole “check me out in the studio for two seconds!” during every commercial break of TRMS because they really mess up my fast-forwarding skills.

    And marriage, of course. Duh.

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    I would ask (although I’m sure it’s been asked before)… Do you see yourself moving into politics, or running for office, in the precedented future?

    And of course, as a followup, when’s the wedding? :)

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    Oh goodness, I haven’t read all 60-something responses up there so I’m not sure if this has been asked already. However, she mentioned in the Fresh Air interview that she thinks that if she weren’t doing broadcast work, she’d still be doing on prison justice and/or AIDS work. I’d like to ask her what she thinks the most pressing things are that need to be done in those areas are, and what type of action/activism is actually being taken.

    I would also ask her in, the least creepy way I could manage, if she would be mine forever. Just because I couldn’t not do it.

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    I was driving home last night and switching radio stations when I heard her voice, and immediately cranked the radio to a volume generally reserved for a surprise Journey song. It was right as she started talking about her problems with clinical depression, so added bonus of feeling like she’d understand me if I ever had a chance to talk to her. ‘Twas a lovely drive home, indeed.

    I’d ask her how she keeps being so awesome when she gets in that place where depression makes you feel sad all of the time. I feel like she’d have a good answer to that, or at least be able to make me laugh about it.

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    Considering she’s on my list of top 3 people i most admire, i’d ask her who’s the person she admires most?

    that and is there a song that gets her pumped up before doing her show–what’s the rach maddow anthem?

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    I (obviously) haven’t read the book yet, but after listening to the NPR interview, I have a (wordy, hopefully acceptable) question about it.

    One of the major points of the book, as I understand it, is that the use of private contractors is a dangerous trend in US wars. I don’t see this as much of a trend at all: the US military as a whole has massively more money and personnel than the private contractors it hires, and the growth only looks dramatic from its starting point, which is essentially zero. From another perspective, the danger of private involvement in military policy is an old one: Eisenhower’s speech against the military-industrial is nearly fifty years old now, and the role of private corporations that design and build weapons and provide logistical support has been immense from at least World War II. Even the use of proxies and private organizations given authority to act on behalf of the military are old: the US government has used proxies in conflicts in South America for almost a century, and the US commissioned privateers from almost the formation of the country. Given this context, what makes this time different?

  28. Thumb up 0

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    Your book is about the premise that Americans have become at peace with being at war. What would you say to those who argue that the us was founded by warfare and has remained true to its bellicose beginnings?

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    I’d like to ask her about her thoughts on contemporary feminism and the LGBT movement. As an AIDS activist for a decade and as one of the most recognizable out lesbians, what changes has she seen in the feminism/ lbgt/ queer communities? What are her feelings on the movements shift toward marriage/ workplace equality? What should young gay people/ feminists be doing to further our cause?

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    Having just seen her at a book signing tonight, I would ask “So when does the book about cocktails and meeting babes come out?”
    But seriously, I would ask her about her time in grad school. Specifically I would ask, “When you were in grad school did you think you would end up in media? If not, what type of work did you think you would be doing?”

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    I think I’m too late, but for the sake of discussion:

    After listening to the Fresh Air interview and battling with cyclical depression myself, I would ask her if/how she has had experience with taking antidepressants and what impact she thinks they may or may not affect her ability to articulate thoughts intellectually, discern and maintain the level of erudition many come to expect of her.

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    I would ask Ms Maddow what she’d like to do for a living if she didn’t host a political/cultural commentary teevee show. And also, what person does she want to interview most in the world.

    Thanks.

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