Saturday marked my fourth work anniversary at The Blade.
My first day in the Toledo newsroom was Oct. 8, 2012. I wrote an eight-inch story about a just-hired YMCA director and talked a lot about northern Michigan with incredulous new colleagues who wondered if I was crazy for leaving behind its beauty and beaches for the surface parking lots and empty storefronts of downtown Toledo.
It was then, as it is now, the height of the presidential election campaign. Ohio — this big, magnificent prize of a swing state– was and is again madness. The political atmosphere is nothing like Michigan, where candidates have long since fled after securing the primary nominations and barely looked back.
For proof of the zaniness that happens during presidential races, look no further than this scene in front of a strip mall in Toledo on a recent Saturday afternoon:
Who is in the center of that throng? It’s not a Clinton, or a Trump, or even a Kaine or a Pence. It’s CJ, Toby, Charlie, Kate, Will, and Josh. As in the cast of the very bygone but much beloved political television drama.
The actors Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Dule Hill, Mary McCormack, Joshua Malina, and Bradley Whitford reunited to take a bus tour around Ohio to stump for Hillary Clinton.
Like: the cast of The West Wing, clambering into the bed of a white pick-up truck to address a couple hundred Toledoans in a parking lot shared with a Little Caesar’s.
Without Aaron Sorkin writing the scripts, their speeches were more stilted than soaring. The crowd cared naught. They roared when Janney took the microphone and promised to come back to Toledo and repeat her lip-synced rendition of “The Jackal” if Clinton wins. It was a nice moment, even if the truck-bed rhetoric that preceded her promise was nowhere near as witty and winning as what C.J. Cregg would have delivered in front of a presidential podium in the White House press room.
It made for a nice moment as part of my story and the closest thing that I’ve ever had to a viral Tweet:
Four years in Ohio, and even the crazy parts are starting to look sorta normal.Let’s see what the next four weeks bring.