Opinion » Bill Cope

Dear President Obama,

I got me a bad dose of the "what ifs?"


Delighted to hear you're running for re-election, sir. You can count on me. But before we get started, I have a question. When you're sitting alone in the Oval Office, in between crises and catastrophes and budget confrontations and having to put up with attacks from creeps like Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann, do you ever wonder how things might be different today if right after you took office, you'd told Nancy Pelosi and Eric Holder to go ahead and investigate the hell out of the Bush bastards?

I got to thinking about it last weekend, while watching that movie about Valerie Plame. Fair Game. I recommend it most highly if you and Michelle haven't seen it. Both Naomi Watts and Sean Penn are near to perfect in it. Plus watching Penn act always makes me reflect on how those Hollywood liberals the whiny conservatives are always bitching about have all the talent and intelligence, while all the right has is Chuck Norris and Dennis Miller.

But listen, if you do a Redbox run, I'd get something else for Sasha and Malia because Fair Game probably isn't something they'd enjoy. What we did when our girl was their age, we'd rent Free Willy or Babe whenever we got ourselves something too grown-uppy for her. 'Course, you need two DVD players and two TVs if ... ah, but look at me here, telling you how to raise your kids. Don't mind me, Mr. President. You're doing just fine without any advice from me.

And that's not why I wrote, anyway. The deal is, Fair Game was ultimately a damn depressing movie because going into it, I already knew how it turned out, which is, essentially, that all the vermin in the Bush administration got away with it. Karl Rove and Dick Cheney exposed a CIA agent, ruined her career and got away with it. Scooter Libby, the little sap actually convicted of the treason, was given a full pardon and got away with it. And need I say, Mr. President, the larger offense is that they lied America into an endless war, killing and maiming thousands of U.S. soldiers and God only knows how many Iraqi civilians in the process, and got away with it?

Frankly, I didn't need to see any movies to know what criminals those crumb-bums are. By now, their treachery is a matter of record, and everyone but what I call the "M & MMs" (Moral and Mental Midgets) knows it. But a well done and historically accurate film can turn such treachery from a distant distraction into a tangible experience, don't you agree? I mean, just knowing that decency was violated is one thing, but witnessing the living effects of those violations on people is quite another. Our demand for justice is most urgent when we learn what it truly means to be victims of a crime, and that's as true with the Bush administration as it is for some punk who shoots an innocent kid during a drive-by. (But then, when you think about it, the only difference between the street punks and the Bush people is that the Bushies spent $1 trillion on their drive-by, and they always sent other people to do the actual shooting.)

So as good as the movie is, I came out of Fair Game with a renewed frustration that justice was left dangling. And even while the movie ran, I couldn't help but wonder how different things might be today had you'd gone after the a-holes and called them to account for the misery they caused.

Oh, I know. You promised a different, more inclusive approach to governing than the "Screw you!" attitude the Bush mob took with its opposition. It still shows, more than two years later, that you want to build coalitions and transcend partisan lines. But I'm afraid that by letting bygones from the Bush reign be bygones, you conveyed the message that anything goes to people who, even under normal conditions, have to cheat just to meet the minimum standards of civilized behavior.

I realize it's too late now, but let's say you'd gone straight at them. That instead of taking investigations off the table for Pelosi, you'd set her free. That to Holder, you had said find the lies and indict at will. Imagine, Mr. President, how Cheney and Rove, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice would have looked after a month or two of Congressional hearings or Justice Department grand juries. Do you suppose Cheney would still be out there acting like a deposed pope had he spent a few months on the Spiro T. Agnew cell block for contempt and perjury? Do you suppose Rove would now be squatting on Fox after he'd ratted out everyone else in a hysterical effort to stay out of a prison shower?

I'm sure the right wing sewage machine would have made you out as something horrible and unnatural. But they did that anyway and continue doing it to this day. Think about it, what are the tea baggers but fleas carried in the mange of the diseased hound Bush/Cheney let out of the cage?

In the bigger picture, though, had you shown a willingness--nay, an eagerness­--to prove there is nobody too powerful to be prosecuted, maybe some of those swinish Wall Street bankers wouldn't have been so quick to award themselves billions in bonuses after mercilessly sodomizing the middle class. And maybe the middle class wouldn't feel so abandoned in their struggle to not go extinct.

But most importantly, maybe a few prolonged, televised trials with the top bums facing an incoming tide of accusations with nothing but their arrogance and incompetence as a defense ... maybe that would have kept fresh in the minds of all (but the M & MMs, of course) what a miserable and despicable regime we rejected so resoundingly in 2008, and how easily we could return to that.

Oh, well, que sera. Just wanted to get that off my chest, is all. So now about this re-election ... what do you want me to do?