Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Fallible Typist and Other Observations for a Monday Morning

In response to “Austin mayor”: yes, the piece on the Catholic Church did carry the typo you discerned. The correct quote from Justice Anne Burke should be:
“He’s [the Cardinal] is the ultimate person in charge here,” she said. “He’s never had the intent, I think, to abide by [the zero tolerance policy] other than in words. I’m hoping this is at least a wake-up call.”

“Abide” not “above” as in the piece. Since I type my own stuff as I write it, these exasperating typos are bound to occur. Reminds me of the days I was on the Saint Cloud [Minnesota] Times in the early `50s when we had a phenomenally bad proof reader. My copy reporting on the city’s police department reported that a Mr. Stotko (a friend of mine, actually who became the father-in-law of Bob Moretti who was the Democratic majority leader of the California House during the terms of Ronald Reagan) was a “defective on the police force.” We had to print a correction for the outraged man. It read: “We apologize for a typographical error calling Mr. Stotko a defective on the police force. He is a detective on the police farce.”


For many years I thought it a terrible disadvantage to have a fat face with thick glasses and (at one time) sandy hair (sort of like the photo with Henry Hyde but 30 years younger) rather than a thin, angular Gregory Peck visage—but I’ve had a great deal of fun with it. One evening in 1973 while doing a stand-up in the Men’s at the Madison Hotel Montpelier Room restaurant, another guy moved next to me and observed in a stentorian voice, “Well, Larry, these Republicans sure got into a lot of trouble trying to screw around with us Democrats, didn’t they?” As I tried to figure it out before answering, he moved away, washed his hands, held them aloft before the automatic dryer and the room immediately became filled with patrons. Since there was a dryer din and people who hadn’t heard his remark, I merely said, “Yeah, that’ll teach `em.” Thinking that would end it. He then exulted: “Hey, guys, meet Larry O’Brien, chairman of the Democratic party whose office got bugged by those Nixon creeps!” What do you do now, say “no I’m not he?” I said, “yeah, really something, huh?” and breezed out the door, hoping the real O’Brien wasn’t there (as he usually was in the evenings).

Another time—this was about 1970—when I was the publicist for the Peace Corps, my boss, the Corps director who was equivalent to an assistant Secretary of State ordered his car with driver to pick him up at the self-same hotel, the Madison—and I was to ride with it. When we pulled up and I jumped out he was nowhere to be seen. A group of tourists waiting for their bus spotted me and a woman with a piercing voice said, “Oh, there’s Dr. Kissinger!” Looking around to see if my boss was there and gratified he was not, I raised my right hand and extended two fingers to form a V, muttering in a German guttural, “Negotiation is the key!” and barged into the hotel to an enthusiastic sprinkling of applause which caused the sidewalk pedestrians to crane their necks. Once inside, I bumped headlong into my boss who, having seen the whole performance, said with pretended unctuousness, “Doctor, may I escort you back to your car?” Which he did to the hushed thrill of the crowd, holding the rear door for me as I, weighed down with affairs of state, slipped in whereupon he jumped in next to the driver and I gave the bored gesture to move on, flashing the ladies my V sign once more. We changed seats in the next block. But, all in all, not a bad day.


A number of commentaries on the Channel 2 gubernatorial debate gave dreadful reviews to Ron Gidwitz: he was inarticulate, stiff and so on. Well, give him this: he’s not a pol. I’ll say this: while he and I don’t agree on social policy, if, perchance he were to become governor, my guess is that conservatives would find in him the kind of tough, libertarian governor that would stun them with a fearlessness that would make them proud. He and I had an interesting conversation before he debuted on my radio program and I learned this about him: he’s not the kind of guy who would worry about reelection; he would slash the hell out of the budget, incur any special interest animosity that would come to him in doing so, would probably conclude that by rectifying the budget imbalances he would not get reelected, and become the toughest, most integrity-filled governor Illinois ever had. Having done all these things and having returned the state to solvency, he would probably be stunned to find himself more popular than he imagined. My advice to fellow conservatives is don’t knock Ron. His strength doesn’t just depend on Steve Rauschenberger his excellent choice for lieutenant governor—but on his own gut.

So lighten up on Ron, my friends.

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