Personal and Confidential Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, President, Chairman, Revolutionary Command Council c/o Super-Secret Bunker No. 6 (Across from Super-Secret Nuclear Centrifuge No. 3) Baghdad, Iraq [Via FedEx]
Dear Mr. President:
It was good to speak to you again on the phone this morning. You’re a hard man to pin down. But I was pleased to find out that Marty Scorsese “knew a guy” who “knew a guy” who had your number.
And for this I say “All praise to Allah,” and a tip o’ the hat to Verizon Wireless. I don’t know about you, but I really am-if you’ll pardon the phrase-“blown away” by modern technology. I mean, there I was, waiting for the cashier to ring up those new Kevin Costner DVD’s at the Burbank Costco while talking to you in a Baghdad bunker. As we used to say at Disney, it really is a small world after all.
Anyway, as I was saying before I lost you, I don’t know much about politics per se, but I’ve always thought that American foreign policy is fundamentally insane. Take Lebanon in the early 80’s: Back then, we were bragging how the U.S.S. New Jersey ‘s 16-inch guns were capable of hurling a 2,500 pound shell-the equivalent of a Chevy Impala-20 miles. Me? I said, “Forget the shells. Throw Chevy Impalas.”
I mean, which do you think would have done a better job of winning the hearts and minds of the Lebanese people? Half a ton of high-incendiary explosives, or 2,500 pounds of the finest glass, chrome and steel that Detroit had to offer-with a zero-down, zero-interest, no-payments-till-June cash-back lease? Damn right! Hell, we could have lobbed eight-burner Viking ranges- Incoming! -and made the point that we were a multicultural society.
But did anybody listen to me?
No. And where are we today? I’ll tell you: We’ve got another Bush targeting Baghdad, and Toyota owns the market and mindshare among upwardly mobile 18-to-24-year-old Afghani warriors. Talk about missed opportunities: Instead of thinking guns and butter, we should have been concentrating on Guns N’ Roses.
And you know that I know that you understand exactly what I’m talking about.
All of which brings me to your own presently precarious position. I’ve got to be honest with you here, Saddam: It’s over. Done. Finito. Say goodbye to Baghdad, Elvis has left the mosque, people will riot in the streets if Robin Williams does another Patch Adams film: One way or another, you’re history.
Now the way I see it, you can go out like Osama, vaporized. Or take the Mussolini route, hanging from your heels. But as Tony Blair might say, I’m prepared to offer “A Third Way.”
Think … Jack Welch.
That’s right: think book deals. A lecture series. Box seats at the U.S. Open. Private jets, free toilet paper, affairs with women who edit the Harvard Business Review .
What I’m talking about here isn’t “regime change,” but “retirement package.”
And with the right representation-namely, me-I’m convinced we can negotiate an exit strategy with a “most-favored-nations” clause that matches the perk package of any departing C.E.O. in America.
Now I can imagine what you’re thinking here, Saddam: Has this godless Yankee infidel lost his mind? As Sun Tzu might say: “Absolutely not.” Because the truth is, nobody loves a comeback story or a personal-rehabilitation saga more than the 18-to-54-year-old American female demographic-except perhaps the people who edit magazines and create TV shows for them.
Remember Mark Fuhrman, the white racist scourge of the O.J. Simpson trial? He’s a hero these days. Ollie North? A TV commentator. Al Sharpton is running for President, Mike Milken’s a star, and Mike Tyson is doing product endorsements on TV. Bill Clinton? Hell! He stole the furniture and pardoned Marc Rich, but these days Bubba’s having lunch with Leo DiCaprio and making millions on the lecture circuit. He’s even hiring interns again!
In short, Saddam, you’re worth a hell of a lot more alive than dead-to everyone, even George Bush, given the upcoming midterm elections and current state of the economy. So just consider some of the opportunities out there for you:
· The publisher Gruner & Jahr desperately needs someone to replace Rosie at the head of her now-defunct magazine. Think: Saddam! Think where you’d be sitting at those fashion shows in Bryant Park! You and Anna Wintour! In sunglasses!
· CBS needs someone to replace Bryant Gumbel. And Martha Stewart. (Maybe you’re not a morning person, but I’ve heard you grill a mean kabob.)
· MSNBC failed by going left-far left-with Phil Donahue. If you can’t beat O’Reilly, why not outdo him? Isn’t it time for a little Totalitarian TV?
· I’m ready to book the Famous Dictators College Lollapalooza tour: Imelda Marcos and Idi Amin have already agreed to be your opening act. The mosh pit should be a gas!
· And I barely have time to mention all the other TV projects my foot soldiers have been brainstorming: Guantanamo Baywatch . Scud Studs . Crossfire , with live ammo. Fear Factor, the Hussein Edition .
Trust me, Saddam, there will be no change in your lifestyle. An air force of Russian MIG’s is nice, but a G5 flies eight comfortably. I’ve heard Ron Perelman’s most recent ex-wife is dying to meet you. And I can already picture The New York Times ‘ House & Home section feature chronicling the renovation and decoration of your new Manhattan digs.
What’s in it for me, you ask? Nothing. Except possibly to help humanity. Trust me, I’m not even thinking about myself-or a Nobel Peace Prize-here.
I’m reachable all weekend on the cell phone. And there’s nothing I’d like better than to negotiate your golden parachute. Trust me, it will be the mother of all retirement packages.
Michael S. Ovitz. (AgentMike@hotmail.com)
P.S.: I may have jumped the gun here, but I’ve already put out a feeler with CBS’s Les Moonves. He said he loves your work, but he’s already doing Young Hitler this season. Either way, he said he’d love to buy you lunch next time you’re in L.A.