The movie about Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, and President Bush’s contrived war in Iraq is hitting theatres now, coinciding strangely with the release of Dubya’s memoirs. Naomi Watts is Plame, the covert operative with CIA, and Sean Penn is her husband, Joe Wilson, who blows the whistle on the fraudulent story about Saddam Hussein’s purchase of yellowcake uranium from Niger, used by Bush and Cheney as a casus belli to excuse their invasion and destruction of Iraq. Whether you need a refresher course in that epoch or not, whether you would prefer not even to think about those tragic and nauseating years, I believe every citizen owes it to him/herself to re-absorb the facts—- the lies, deceit, betrayal, and treachery, and the personal costs, of what Bush and Cheney did—- especially at this time when the conservatives are busily rehabilitating Bush as he roams free on his book tour.
There is a lot crammed into the movie; it can be a mite disorienting at first, unless you already know a little bit about the story, while they establish Plame’s bona fides as a top covert agent in the anti-proliferation department of CIA. Everyone goes by first names, but you will quickly recognize Rove, even before he utters that famous phrase nailing Plame as “fair game.”
Remember how ruthlessly Rove-Cheney-Bush punished any dissent or questioning of what they were doing? How they destroyed anyone presumptuous enough to be less than servile? How vicious yet oily everyone in the Vice-President’s smarmy office was, including the boss? The film utilizes footage from President Bush’s speeches and the Shock and Awe assault on Baghdad (recall the outright glee with which newscasts delivered the photos of Baghdad being blown apart and burned?). One of the best performances, and some of the most poignant scenes, occur when an American-Iraqi doctor is recruited by Plame to return to Baghdad to persuade her brother and other nuclear scientists to escape; she succeeds but war intervenes. So far as I can tell, the story as told is factual, although, for dramatic purposes, I believe some characters are composites, and there was some tightening of events, especially when it comes to the betrayal of Plame’s secret operations. This in no way is un-authentic, however, and I would be astonished if you did not leave the movie with the same renewed anger as I, sick that the real villains got away with it, and only Scooter took the fall.
Seeing all this should be like a taser shock—- we are already seeing and hearing the exact same style in action as hubris-filled Republicans ride back into town to take over the House of Representatives. The Republicans today show exactly the same penchant for character assassination, for lying, and doing anything to achieve their short-term political purposes, regardless of how it harms the country, or how many people are hurt or killed. Sometimes we willingly forget that, because the truth is so painful. “Fair Game” is a potent reminder.