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Rachel Maddow on Why Nicolle Wallace Is Her Favorite Republican

For Variety’s latest issue, we asked Rachel Maddow to write a tribute to Nicolle Wallace, one of 50 people to make our New Power of New York list. Here’s why Wallace, who has her own afternoon show on MSNBC, represents a new generation of movers and shakers that capture the best of Manhattan. For the full list, click here.

Have you read Nicolle Wallace’s fiction? Nicolle is self-deprecating to within an inch of her life, so when she first told me she was writing a novel, she said I should think of it as no big thing, a “beach read.”

I found that “Eighteen Acres” and its sequel were, in fact, that much fun to read. But I realized quickly — and I see it now even more — that there was something else big going on. Those books were Nicolle’s goodbye to being a political practitioner, but it turns out she was sounding an alarm on the way out the door.

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The country is still bewildered today by the transformation of the swaggering but stalwart conservative GOP of the Bush-Cheney era in less than a decade into the braying, cursing, handsy, brazenly corrupt know-nothingism we’re living through now.

But it wasn’t really out of nowhere: There are a few Republicans who operated at the highest level of Republican presidential politics who saw that transformation coming. Nicolle is one of those few, and she was sly and smart and funny enough to cloak the confession — all the why and how of it — in the form of a crackerjack novel.

Nicolle is a deep-red Republican, and a loyal conservative, but she’s a patriot first, second and third. She’s also a hell of a lot of fun to spend time with. I love Nicolle as an analyst and as one of the sharpest, best-prepared cable hosts I’ve ever seen (watch her — her show is taking off for a reason). But as a friend, I love her fearlessness. And her mischief.

We’ll never agree on tax policy or the Iran deal, but I trust her, I respect her and I know for a fact that she is thinking circles around most of the rest of us, most of the time.

Iveta Karpathyova for Variety

Rachel Maddow is the host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC. Read the rest of our New Power of New York list.

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