‘Tis the season for good tidings and cheer—even in politics.
Time for those bedtime stories, but first, forget the usual classics: Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol , or even Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, which feels like politics present.
Enter a new Christmas classic—The Maestro and the Tuba Man.
Imagine. The symphony orchestra has tuned up. The Maestro enters the stage and the musicians stand in traditional respect, while the audience politely applauds.
But wait…before the Maestro can even hold her tiny wand aloft, a loud blast comes from the brass section. Everyone on stage and in the audience is startled.
UMPAH. UMPAHPAH. What an angry sound. UMPAH. UMPAHPAH.
Loud, repetitive and threatening. It is the tuba player.
He is not late in tuning his instrument. He is defiant and insistently “buzzing his lips” to generate the UMPAH, UMPAHPAH noise. It cannot be called a melody or even a rhythm.
Just UMPAH. UMPAPAH.
The Tuba Man demands attention.
At first, the audience is confused. The Maestro frozen.
The Tuba Man desires the stage for himself. After all, he has the loudest brass instrument and can make himself a band. All the Maestro can do is wave a stick. He deserves the adoration. Not she.
Other lesser known instruments agree with the Tuba Man, as they, too, feel unappreciated. The overlooked xylophone, the misunderstood viola, the triangle, and even a piccolo join in.
Soon it resembles a parade—like a military band—but, mostly it is noise. The Tuba Man booming more and more, mindless of anyone except himself and his loyal band members who trail along.
Some in the symphony hall leave. Others begin to applaud. They like the Tuba Man because he upsets things.
The Maestro, the strings, and the drums remain confused. What to do?
Shouting does not work. Waving a tiny wand is pointless. Abandoning the stage stupid.
“Wait…wait,” the Maestro tells the remnants of her orchestra.
“We cannot wait,” some shoot back, unhappy with being upstaged by a loud Tuba Man and other wannabes.
Watching, waiting, and wondering what to do, the Maestro continues to insist on patience.
Surely, she reasons, the audience will tire of the Tuba Man, and we can resume the scheduled symphony.
After all, there is only so much UMPAH, UMPAHPAH anyone can take.
The Tuba Man continued to boom. He marched, knocked over orchestra chairs, strutted up and down the aisles and clapped for himself—while sneering at the Maestro and tweeting about himself.
His fans began to grow. They flowed into the streets and filled stadiums. They wore uniforms and hats and clapped loudly for the Tuba Man. He was their hero. He grew bolder and meaner.
He broke laws. He lied a lot. And he embraced the company of other country’s Tuba Men.
Still, the Maestro waited—offstage now. Many believed she was weak, hiding, and afraid.
The Tuba Man sneered “fake news,” “dirty cops” and other nasty remarks at those who criticized him, while his fans cheered. He grew bolder and more cruel. Two years passed.
What to do?
Quietly, the Maestro garnered 41 new members to her team in 2018. Yet, few noticed her strength. And even fewer grasped her strategic brilliance.
As the great Chinese general Lao Tzu instructed in the Art of War, “If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.”
The Maestro did just that. She called the Tuba Man “not well” and “sick.” She announced that she prayed for him.
He became angrier.
Still she waited, counseling the musicians to “wait for his bad behavior to disgust the audience—then we strike.”
And strike she did. With impeachment.
She called out the drums and they banged louder than the tuba. The remaining members of her team mustered with horns, violins, cellos, bells, whistles and even the harp.
They performed as one and surprised even the Tuba Man.
The result—the Maestro’s orchestra delivered a massive rebuke of the Tuba Man.
Then she turned out the lights, closed up the House and sent everyone home for Christmas.
Time, the Maestro knows, is on her side.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.