25 March 2008

Second Fiddle

Second Fiddle
03/25/2008, 11:55 PM

I had sung first tenor until five years ago when my job took me overseas a lot and the impromptu scheduling made it very difficult for the choir director to manage tonal balance. So with resolve but not without regret, I moved to the second tenor section.

Singing second tenor is much like playing second fiddle - long on work, short on glory. The job of a second tenor is to make the first tenors sound good. Sometimes it would be so easy to just plow right over them when they are at the edge of their range and we're in our sweet spot. It ain't music though. We provide the support upon which their high notes rest. If we sag, they sink and suddenly a perfect third is a perfect nightmare and fosters mutiny and mayhem on the high 'c's. But when it works, it works. I am now a better second tenor than ever I was first. Singing in the choir is never about yourself anyway.

Still, sometimes when we're singing there are notes out there that used to be mine. They are mine. I had them notes, they are a part of me and I was meant to sing them. But I don't because I got a job to do and somebody else has got to sing those those notes. My notes.

As I've said before, there is every reason for Hillary to keep up the good fight. I wouldn't quit if I were her and she is no quitter. But she isn't going to win on pledged delegates without a major stumble by Obama. And that's not going to happen. Michigan and Florida will be seated at the Democratic convention, but that will not give her what she needs, either. And the super-delegates will not give her the nomination if it means the defection of all those that Obama has brought into the tent and all those who remember Gore's loss.

But neither will Obama succeed by leaving empty handed all those who have so fervently and freely supported Hillary Clinton for so many years.

There was a time when I thought Obama was meant to be the Vice President. Young and articulate and patient enough to endure the apprentice role. I would not have been unhappy with that scenario. But he will and should prevail in this primary and that was my hope if not my expectation.

I cannot, however, imagine his path to the Presidency to be anything but the most daunting contest any Democrat has ever faced in my lifetime. But, were Hillary to be the nominee, the challenge would be no less great. This is the path we, as Democrats have chosen.

Though I have an enduring respect for both Clintons, I have never been able to long endure their ability to wrap the Democratic Party up in their own personal ambitions. Hillary's capacity to shed a tear was news, whether it was real or not. She is human, afterall. I, for one, required that confirmation.

The question for many at this point seems to be whether the Clintons would allow any Democrat to become President if Hillary is not chosen. They do have that power. They have the power to literally destroy the Democratic Party. Will they use it?

In the end, I suspect not. These are two people very aware that they are writing history and history will only be as charitable as they themselves manage. But upon finally conceding the nomination, whither goest the better half of this dynasty? A few months ago, I could never have imagined this, but now I see little option for honest reconciliation within the Democratic Party except for Hillary Clinton to be offered the Vice Presidential spot and as utterly uncharacteristic as it may seem - for Hillary, duty bound to the success of the Democratic Party and the United States of America, to accept that sui generis opportunity.

I say this after hearing it from many quarters, but mostly from Democrats I have known who have worked for the Democratic Party for many years and fear its demise if there is no accord. For them, the Presidential race is just another item on the list as they make their phone calls and print out their address checklists. For those people, the turmoil generated in this nominating process could translate into volunteers lost and votes forsaken in important local contests which is the bread and butter of the Democratic organization.

For those of you who think it will not be offered, I offer that Obama has little alternative if he is to truly present himself as a uniter. For those of you who think it will not be accepted, know that both of the Clintons already have a place in history, but it still is up to them to decide what that place looks like.

Second fiddle is a harder job than it looks. This I know.

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