The first part of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow's address at SXSW Interactive Sunday afternoon felt like a college poli-sci lecture. All that was missing was a teaching assistant.
The topic was the same as her latest book, Drift: The Unmooring American Military Power, in which she examines the disconnect between military and civilian life in the US set against the backdrop of several decades of foreign interventions. Not exactly up there with the "killer app" conversations one expects to hear at SXSW.
"The war is something we don't really feel," she said. "There's a gap between military families' lives and the rest of our lives."
But things loosened up when Maddow, who turned 40 Sunday, opened the floor to questions.
Who would she most want to interview? She picked up her book and read from the dedication page:
"To vice-president Dick Cheney, please let me interview you."
As she isn't allowed to use profanity, someone asked if she could say the "f-word." And she did: "filibuster."
What's her least favorite bit of political jargon: " 'impact' as a verb."
Then there was the most important question -- favorite beer: "I'm a Guiness drinker from way back." There's also a Sierra Nevada she likes that's available during the holidays. As for Texas beers, she said, "I don't know enough about Texas beers to pander."
What does she think of SXSW?: "It's a cross between a political convention and Lollapalooza."
Would she run for president?: "I'm not even president of my own house."
At the end, she gave free paperback copies of her book to anyone who wanted one. Now, that's the way to a convention-goer's heart.