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What If We Won’t?
by Andy Cowan
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Andy Cowan, an award-winning writer, whose credits include Cheers and Seinfeld, regularly contributes humor pieces to the Los Angeles Times and the CBS Jack FM Radio Network.

In this era of burgeoning opportunities to communicate our thoughts the nanosecond they fire from our frontal lobes, we seem to be overly resorting to verbal rope-a-dope, if you will. I’m talking about the seemingly random punch that permeates our musings as the mental exertion to frame them takes a brief siesta – “if you will”. Listen to the commentators, if you will; the naysayers, if you will; the multitudes glomming onto the latest lazy language fixation, if you will.

How did this verbal virus, if you will, first infect our channels of communication, especially when it seems to fly in the face of the lack of civility that’s permeated our airwaves? Could it be its practitioners have grown a bit gun shy, if you will, about expressing their opinions, when a blogosphere of armchair critics are ready to shoot them down? I forgot to ask your permission there. Make that “armchair critics,” if you will.

By peppering in “if you will,” are we beginning to ask for tacit authorization to speak our minds, if you will allow us to? Or a la my analogy to a tiring pugilist waiting out the clock, as the wall-to-wall pundits summon the energy to resume flapping their gums, has “if you will” simply become the new “uh”?

Where they happen to stick it doesn’t seem more justified than where they don’t. I’m an avid viewer of Chris Matthews, whose closing segments on Hardball, “Let Me Finish,” might also apply to when his guests are trying to get a word in. But I still love the guy, and nobody can accuse him of hesitancy to speak that trenchant mind of his. On recent shows, he's introduced former Republican National Committee Chairman and MSNBC commentator, Michael Steele, as “the inside man, if you will.” He mentioned Republicans were trying to “wear down, erode, if you will, the health care bill.” And he volunteered that Ron Paul, who’d been laying low on trashing Romney, seemed like his ”bromance buddy”… sans “if you will.” Maybe Chris already suspected we wouldn’t?

Should Romney expectedly win the bruising nomination fight, perhaps his subsequent move or return (if you will) to the center will still placate the Tea Partiers and Republican base, if he disguises it with: “I will repeal Obama Care, if you will.” If he gets in and suddenly remembers what he liked about it in Massachusetts, he’ll have a ready response teed up after David Gregory goes to the tape: “David, I’d said I will repeal Obama Care, if you will. But seeing as how you’re just a moderator, I don’t believe you’ll be repealing it anytime soon.” This scenario is admittedly improbable, seeing as how Romney seems to avoid Meet the Press, where, like Albert Brooks in Defending Your Life, he’d have to enter his “past lives pavilion” and defend away. On the eve of the election, he can at least try to communicate resolute steadfastness with an ironclad 100% guarantee from which he can’t possibly flip or flop: “You will vote for me, if you will.” If they won’t, he’ll flop.

Had Rick Santorum mustered up a little if-you-willpower when he was regurgitating over JFK, he might be more closely nipping at Romney’s well-heeled heels: “Watching JFK’s speech to the Baptist ministers about the separation of church and state made me want to throw up, if you will.” Ohhh, he means figuratively throw up! At least he’s demonstrating his passion. Wait, did he mean, “if we will… throw up?” As for even some of his supporters who felt queasy about his comment, it wasn’t a question of if, but when.

That being said, at the end of the day, let us acknowledge the freedom in this amazing country to say what we like, short of “fire” in a crowded theater, or “I like firing people” in a crowded primary season, without asking if you, or anyone else, will allow us to. And let us move on to the important issues of the day – like finally putting the kibosh on the overuse of “that being said,” “at the end of the day” and “amazing”. It goes without saying, if you will.

Published: Mar 20,2012 22:11
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Andy Cowan
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