Myself: Question. "I heard you editorial...

INTERVIEW WITH

April 26, 1993|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

INTERVIEW WITH myself: Question. "I heard you editorial page types referred to as Monday morning quarterbacks. Are you one?"

Answer. "Yes, but only on Mondays. Never on Thursdays."

Question. "What is a Monday morning quarterback, anyway?"

Answer. "According to your Merriam-Webster's unabridged dictionary, it is 'a person who using hindsight criticizes what others have done (so-called from the fact that most American football games are played on the weekends). Example: It is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback and to be omniscient after the event, to expect superhuman deeds from human beings.' "

Question. "That's not in my Merriam-Webster's unabridged."

Answer. "Then you must be one of those purists who still uses the Second Edition, published in 1934, instead of the Third Edition, published in 1961. The phrase dates only to 1941."

Question. "Since the National Football League now plays a game every Monday night during the season, and since most plays are called not by quarterbacks but by coaches and offensive coordinators, should the phrase be changed?"

Answer. " 'Tuesday morning offensive coordinator' doesn't have much of a ring to it. Besides, Americans tend to use such phrases long after they have become literally meaningless in contemporary society. Just the other day a city slicker who has never seen an ox or even a ditch, much less an ox in a ditch, said to me of a person with a big problem, 'His ox is in the ditch.' "

Question. "Any Monday morning quarterbacking to offer this Monday morning?"

Answer. "Yes! I am disgusted with the FBI for doing nothing but wait for seven weeks at the Branch Davidian compound in Texas! It knew how unstable and dangerous the people inside were! It knew David Koresh was a threat to the children! Agents in charge should have anticipated that he would burn the place down! Before he could do it they should have used armored vehicles to punch escape holes in the walls of the buildings and sprayed tear gas in the buildings! Time had run out! If they'd done that instead of merely maintaining the siege, the victims would be alive today!"

Question. "But that's what they did do. They punched holes in the walls with armored vehicles and sprayed tear gas into the buildings. It was only then that the fires were started."

Answer. "Oh. In that case, I am disgusted with the FBI for going in when it did! It should never have used those threatening armored vehicles to punch holes in the walls! Its agents should never have used tear gas! They should have waited! What was the rush? There was no hurry! Time was on the FBI's side! If it hadn't done what it did, those people would be alive today!"

Question. "Say, as a Monday morning quarterback, you're pretty good. What are you on Thursday?"

Answer. "A second guesser."

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