Boy, did we screw up

His name is Jim St. Clair.

He is a member of the Lexington 4 school board, he works for U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, he is a major in the S.C. Air National Guard, and he is running for the Republican nomination for the District 1 seat on Lexington County Council. And his name is Jim St. Clair. His name most assuredly is NOT "Jim Sinclair," as we said today in what is the worst mistake we have made in a political endorsement within my memory.

There is absolutely no excuse for that happening. The associate editor who wrote it knew better, I (who edited it) knew better, and yet it still happened. And we are deeply sorry. Warren Bolton and I have both called Mr. St. Clair to apologize. (Incidentally, anyone else who read these proofs had no reason to doubt Warren and me — since we’ve never fouled up quite like this before — and therefore no reason to suspect that something was wrong. "Snclair" would have looked wrong to them, but "Sinclair" did not, since they had never met or heard of Mr. St. Clair.) A correction will run on Sunday’s editorial page. We’re doing that because it has higher readership than Saturday. In the meantime, this blog item is all I can do.

Why are we so embarrassed by this one misspelling (aside from the fact that ALL errors are embarrassing)? Because Mr. St. Clair is one of three highly qualified candidates for this position — all of them with good records for community service — and we endorsed one of his opponents, Pelion Mayor Charles Haggard (the third candidate is Jim Kinard, also a member of the Lexington 4 school board). So by misspelling his name, we added insult to injury, which makes it worse than making the same mistake under other circumstances. As Mr. St. Clair himself said, the misspelling bothered him more than not being endorsed. I understand that, given the importance of name recognition in a political race. Politicians aren’t usually joking when they say, "Write what you want about me; just spell the name right."

(By the way, I keep saying this was a "misspelling" rather than "the wrong name" because it occurs to me that "Sinclair" is actually derived originally from "St. Clare" or "St. Clair." People with that particular Scottish name can claim kinship to one Henry St. Clair, who fought alongside Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314, according to one Web site. That’s no defense; it’s just as bad either way. I didn’t even think of it until the error was pointed out to me this morning. I have irrelevancies run through my head in times of stress — and the rest of the time, too — and in this case, as my eyes focused on the error like a laser beam as they failed to do yesterday, I thought, "Those names MUST be from the same root." I looked it up, and I was right. Which doesn’t make it any better; I just thought it was interesting. We didn’t make the mistake because we thought it was the same name spelled differently; we made the mistake because it looks roughly like the right name, and since we didn’t know this gentleman or write about him before this week, we didn’t have alarm bells go off automatically in our heads saying "That’s wrong!" the way we would if someone wrote "Sandford" or "DiMint.")

Anyway, we screwed up, and this is the best I can do today to make it right. I realize it isn’t enough.

2 thoughts on “Boy, did we screw up

  1. Greg

    Yeah, I was shocked when I read that editorial. Why should we at all take your editorial seriously if you repeatedly butchered his name. More reason we should pay attention to your bias against Andre Bauer.


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