BY ROBERT HAMMERLE, special guest contributor to Hammervision
The importance of this provocative film transcends its artistic merit. For whether we want to confront it or not, we continue to fight a war in Iraq that began on completely false pretenses, and the parties responsible have yet to be held accountable.
The cost to our country for conducting this phony war is incalculable. From a human standpoint, thousands of Americans have died and tens of thousands more have been left with physical and psychological wounds that will never heal. The death toll for Iraqis has been infinitely higher, and that's not counting the millions forced to flee their own country.
What "Fair Game" does more than anything else is remind us how the Bush Administration and their apologists stepped on anyone who got in their way in the run up to this inexcusable military adventurism. Remember how the most powerful and influential country singing group in the U.S., "The Dixie Chicks," had their careers all but destroyed with the help of the Administration's Fox News toadies after having the audacity to criticize President Bush while on tour in London?
However, as slimy and truly un-American as that unconscionable act was, it paled in comparison to the eventual fate of CIA Operative Valerie Plame and her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson. Wilson, a rather pompous man who enjoyed being in the limelight, was the first individual to publicly challenge the Bush Administration on its deceptive claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. While vain and rather self-centered, he serves as a perfect vehicle for Sean Penn's propensity for over-acting. Those of you who may not like Mr. Penn should not dodge "Fair Game," as it is difficult to always like Mr. Wilson either.
However, Naomi Watts owns this film as the victimized Ms. Plame. A mother of twin boys who has secretly worked for over a decade as a CIA Field Operative, she finds herself outed by Vice President Cheney's henchman, Scooter Libby, in retaliation for her husband going public with his criticism in an article published by the New York Times.
It is truly horrifying to watch a dedicated public servant being destroyed by her own Government. Cheney, Karl Rove and Libby intentionally crushed her because they would broach no dissent. Their Machiavellian machinations were unworthy in every respect of our Democratic form of Government. The hypocrisy of an Administration destroying freedom at home while they champion freedom abroad drips from the screen.
But as I said, this film belongs to Ms. Watts. A loyal wife and a proud public servant, she courageously faces the mammoth consequences of her own Government's singular attempt to both humiliate and ruin her.
In every respect Ms. Watts is stunning as she fights for her reputation and marriage. Caught between Cheney and Libby's virulent mis-information pogram and her husband's high-minded yet inherently selfish campaign to fight back, Ms. Watts' Plame is a picture of dignified grace as she faces the horror of a public dismemberment.
Regardless of your politics, I defy anyone who believes in the fundamental principles that we Americans value to watch this movie without feeling a sense of profound anger. Here we are in 2010, still facing the catastrophic consequences of the ill-fated war in Iraq, and President Bush is on a national tour selling his memoirs. How is it that he and his Administration are largely given a pass for willfully misleading us into a foreign war?
Think of all the vehement criticism against President Obama for doing nothing more than trying to provide meaningful, affordable health care for all Americans, and then think of these same critics doing little more than shrugging their shoulders at the Bush Administration's betrayal of bedrock American principles when it comes to going to war. Must we sacrifice logic and common sense to the new God of rigid political ideology?
Finally, even if you want to overlook the human cost of the Iraqi folly, consider the financial cost. Despite the fact that we hear political leaders pompously argue that we need to reign in the federal deficit, most of them continue to ignore the trillions of dollars we have spent in Iraq. Isn't it ironic that they would willingly spend billions of taxpayer's dollars to largely destroy and then rebuild a Muslim country and then refuse to make a like investment in the United States because it suddenly would be determined to represent "socialism?"
"Fair Game" shows what happened to an otherwise insignificant couple who dared to oppose President Bush and "Lord Voldemort," otherwise known as Vice President Cheney. But the real tragedy is that so few have spoken up in opposition to this very day. God love the Dixie Chicks.