City Lights: Let's trade gaffes for perspective

Come back, Mitt Romney. All is forgiven.

That comment you made about the binders full of women? Yes, it sounded a little off-kilter at the time, and the nation's comedians have teed off on it. But in the annals of off-the-cuff remarks politicians have made about the opposite sex, it's hardly the worst.

President Obama? Yes, you got some scathing reviews for your performance in the first debate, but we all have our listless days.

Justin Verlander? The Giants shelled you pretty badly in Game 1 of the World Series, but that happens in the course of a long career.

You can all breathe a sigh of relief now. The most embarrassing gaffe of the 2012 fall season has arrived, and it came courtesy of one of my own brethren in the journalism industry.

Like many baseball fans, I plugged the word "Tigers" into Google on Saturday morning to find out what time that afternoon's World Series game would start. And like many, I rubbed my eyes in disbelief seconds later when the search pulled up a headline that read...

Well, it was supposed to read "Giants try to go up 3-0 on Tigers, as World Series shifts to Detroit." But evidently, some copy editor (or Tigers-hater) at the Sports Network let a finger slip on the keyboard and left the "f" out of the word "shifts." And in this age of news websites that feed automatically off each other, that meant the typo appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Fox News and other reputable outlets.

Now, any professional journalist can tell you that we're all an errant finger away from a faux pas of that magnitude. As a reporter in Connecticut, I once misread my own handwriting from an interview with a politician and quoted him as referring to "my people" instead of "many people." I got a bemused call from him the next day asking if I was trying to make him sound like Moses.

Still, I'm not close enough to sainthood that I can resist chortling at an error as funny as that Tigers headline. I hope the Sports Network sees the humor in it, too, and that the poor soul who let that four-letter word slip won't be out of a job. We all deserve a second chance.

Bob Dylan, who has been feted as a demigod more than once, caustically sang a few years ago, "As great as you are, man, you'll never be greater than yourself." After the election blitz of the last few months, after two weeks of slow-motion replays seeking the hidden flaw in that toss to first base, I have been pretty much greatness-ed out. Incumbent president, governor of Massachusetts, Cy Young Award winner — call them what you will. They're still Mitt and Barack and Justin, as the cameras mercilessly remind us.

No, this is not a crotchety rant against politics or sports. I love them both. But I need my sense of perspective again.

I need my rest too. Less than a week from now, Obama will be back to work in the Oval Office, and Romney will either be preparing to move in or deciding what shirt to wear the following morning. Whoever wins, their every statement and throat-clearing will no longer be the subject of round-the-clock scrutiny. And not a moment too soon, frankly.

The media saturation of our political candidates is an oddly two-faced phenomenon. On one hand, the constant barrage of updates on Facebook, Twitter and Google Alerts makes our contenders for office appear as momentous as Superman. At the same time, the insane attention to minutiae — the craving for new "gaffes" to turn into punchlines and Tumblr graphics — makes them look, well, about as absurd as most of us would look under the same circumstances.

In times like these, it's helpful to remember that even illustrious lives are often silly in the short term. Have you seen the previews for the new Steven Spielberg movie "Lincoln" opening this fall? If Abraham Lincoln had lived in the social media age, he would have provided enough material to put "binders full of women" to shame. According to accounts of those who knew him, the Great Emancipator was fond of dirty jokes and delivered them in a high-pitched, twangy voice, hardly the stuff of dignified monuments.

And yet, strangely, the architects of the Lincoln Memorial chose to inscribe his classic words about civil rights in stone and forsake his Hefner-like preoccupations. Obama, for good or bad, will go down in history for his healthcare reform and the slaying of bin Laden rather than any first-debate stammering. Verlander's overall record will almost surely land him in the Hall of Fame.

Likewise, I'm sure that headline-writer at the Sports Network has a long and impressive career ahead. Tomorrow, after all, is another day. And in this frantic media age, sometimes the next hour is another hour.

City Editor MICHAEL MILLER can be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at

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