Recessional for an Exiting Tyrant | Harper's Magazine

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Recessional for an Exiting Tyrant


He entered Washington having lost the election by a decisive margin measured in popular vote, but with his fraudulent victory certified by his father’s friends on the Supreme Court. He proceeded to his oath taking with the smell of sulfur thick in the air. Protestors outnumbered those celebrating by five-to-one. He could not walk in his inaugural parade because the Secret Service deemed the crowd, then pelting his limousine with eggs, so hostile that security required him to be rushed to the Capitol for the ceremony. And none of this was broadcast on the evening news, giving Americans a sense of what was coming for the next eight years.

Now Bush departs, the reign of the witches ends, and democratic rule is restored in America. Here’s some music for the demission of Bush. From George Frederick Handel’s opera Rodelinda, the aria “Vivi, tiranno!” sung by Andreas Scholl. The story is a tale of political intrigue and love taken from the Gesta Langobardorum of the eighth century. The words are sung by the hero Bertarido, the legitimate ruler, to the tyrant-usurper Grimaldo. “You still live, tyrant!” he says. “I have spared your life, simply to prove that nature has bestowed upon me the nobler heart.” Like Grimaldo, Bush departs under a cloud of criminality, and the question remains whether he will pay the price for his tyrannical misdeeds. Scholl renders a bravura performance, and the charge he places at the feet of the departing tyrant is the same that the nation now raises against Bush. Today will not be the day for his accounting. But it still must come.

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