The Magazine

Goodbye, Columbus

A brief ‘au revoir’ to the Battleground State.

Dec 10, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 13 • By JOE QUEENAN
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 I think I speak for many Americans when I say how much I am going to miss talking about the great state of Ohio for six to eight hours a day now that the 2012 presidential election is over. 

ohio

As was true in 2004, 2008, and almost every other year, the election ultimately came down to who won the Buckeye State. Even after various media outlets declared President Obama the winner in Ohio, Mitt Romney refused to throw in the towel, delaying his concession speech until after midnight. It was as if he could not believe that the Buckeye State had let him down. When was the last time people in the Buckeye State let anybody down? 

The whole thing was engrossing, riveting. I enjoyed every microsecond of the 24/7 speculation about the Ohio mindset over the past six months—reveling in every chart, every graph, every robo-poll, every conspiracy theory about rigged voting machines and vote-counting software secretly designed by Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter. There is literally nothing I enjoy more than hearing about Ohio and the Electoral College, Ohio and the popular vote, Ohio and the auto industry bailout. I especially love the stuff about the vital importance of getting out the vote in Cuyahoga County. 

I love that state. Love it. And I particularly love Cuyahoga County. “Ohio,” by the way, derives from the Iroquois word for “big river.” But most of you know that. Home to George Armstrong Custer, Toni Morrison, Annie Oakley, Doris Day, Halle Berry, the lead singer from the Pretenders, and the last American president to be born in a log cabin (James Garfield), the great state of Ohio has tradition in spades. That’s why we love it so. That’s why you can’t get elected president without winning Ohio. Whither goeth Ohio, goeth the nation.

But now the circus has left town, and Ohioans, as usual, have been ditched and left to their own devices. This comes at a bad time: LeBron James up and left Cleveland two years ago, then won a title in Miami. That rankled. The Cincinnati Reds blew a 2-0 lead over the San Francisco Giants in the division series and then watched them go on to win the World Series. Kerpowee. The beloved Ohio State is ineligible for postseason play because of assorted infractions. Darn, darn, darn. The Columbus Blue Jackets can bring no joy to residents of the Greater Columbus area because they are horrible, and their league is out on strike, and no one even knows that they exist. And the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, and Cincinnati Bengals all stink. The only consolation here is that the Browns, the Indians, and the Bengals always stink.

There is more bad news. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is running out of bands to induct; this year’s nominees include The Meters and Kraftwerk. Sorry, guys, it’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They are even running out of songwriters to induct. This year’s nominees include Randy Newman, author of “Burn On,” a 1972 song ridiculing the city of Cleveland. It’s like New York giving Gerald Ford its Man of the Year award.

Neil Armstrong just died. So did Phyllis Diller. Nobody likes George Armstrong Custer anymore. 

I love the great state of Ohio. It has the best sports fans in America.
It has the most beautiful concert hall in the country. It has museums, universities, and orchestras that are the envy of the world. And the people are just the nicest folks anywhere. 

That’s why I hate the way it gets shafted every four years. Every four years, the comeliest damsels and sprightliest beaux beat a path to its door, preening and pirouetting, peddling their tacky wares. That courting period lasts exactly nine months. Then Ohioans wake up on the first Wednesday in November and, just like four years ago, it’s what have you done for me lately, you hapless rubes? 

I don’t think this is fair. Because “Ohio” is not just the Iroquois word for “big river.” It is the English word for “Rust Belt state that keeps on giving.” We’re lucky to have it. All that we are we owe to O-H-I-O. 

Just ask Mitt Romney.

Joe Queenan is the author, most recently, of One for the Books.

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