LONGSHOTS: Congressional ineptitude muscles in on steroid hearings
by Dave Long
If I were on the jury and had to know beyond a reasonable doubt if he did take steroids before voting to convict Roger Clemens, the thing that would nag at me is why would anyone in a position of wealth and privilege risk going to jail by lying under oath to Congress as he may have last week?
Itís not like itís going to cost him millions by stopping him from playing, because heís retired. Plus no one named in the Mitchell Report has yet been prevented from working. Heís certainly made enough to be rich beyond imagination, so he canít need more money ó can he? And after seeing Marion Jones on her way to the big house for perjury and possibly Barry Bonds on his way for the same thing, lying under oath doesnít seem so smart, does it?
So what is it? The Hall of Fame? That while he would still know he cheated, no one else would, so heíd be thought of in a more favorable light? A Bill Clinton-like denial perhaps? Where he tried to get off the hook for having ďsexual relationsĒ with an intern on the technicality that his definition is different than what those of us who reside on the planet Earth considered his actions to be. Like that made it any better, but in the Presidentís mind I guess it did. If not any of those, I can only think of three other things. He could be so used to the benefits of his celebrity, he thought a starry-eyed committee would believe him over Brian McNamee, whether lying or not. Or, he just may be amazingly dumb. The last possibility is he didnít do it. I know if I didnít do it and everyone thought I did, Iíd want my reputation back and thatís the only reason Iíd demand to face that committee as he did.
So, in the spirit of having an open mind letís examine these possibilities.
The President Clinton Denial: Itís the old ďthe best defense is a good offenseĒ approach Mr. Clinton used by sternly wagging his finger at the camera as he said he didnít have sex with that woman. The technique was used a few years later by Rafael Palmeiro the day he scolded Congress for suggesting he used steroids, just a few months before he tested positive for being on the juice. So since both got caught, it doesnít have a great track record of late.
The Clueless Beyond Belief Defense: Given the litany of verbal mis-steps, mis-remembers and assorted other lunacy through the years, like getting chucked in a critical playoff game after telling home plate ump Terry Cooney, ďI know where you liveĒ over a disputed call, this is a distinct possibility. The first clue came when he seemed to equate putting on the USA uniform in the world baseball classic with a patriotic-like charging up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders. That was a scary indictment on how far gone he is. Next was sounding like a flummoxed Ralph Kramden (humina, humina, humina) when Harry Waxman asked why he invited a former nanny to his house for the first time in seven years after learning the committee wanted to speak with her. The Roger-haters liked that moment, as it looked close to witness tampering to them.
Pull One Over On Starry-Eyed Congress: You donít think this is plausible? It worked for OJ in a murder trial, for crying out loud. So why canít it do the same with star-struck members of Congress by a guy with more wins than any pitcher alive? Iím not equating Roger to OJ by any means. But if you heard the goober from Missouri, William Lacy Clay, fawningly ask which uniform heíll wear when he goes into the Hall of Fame during the high drama of the hearings, you know itís possible. Indiana pit bull Dan Burton did something similar as he went after McNameeís credibility in calling him a liar a little after that. And after Clemens was signing autographs for some members of the supposedly impartial committee in meetings the previous week, what would you think?
Actually, I can think of one more possibility ó The Fix Was In: Iím not saying McNamee should have been treated with kid gloves. He is, as Chris Shays, the Connecticut Republican, said, a former police officer who is a drug dealer. He got himself into this mess and has earned what comes with it. But do you think it was a coincidence the wrath of the committee came down along party lines? I hate to sound like Oliver Stone, who sees conspiracy in a late laundry delivery, but I do wonder.
Most of the Republicans were easy on Roger and rough on McNamee, most notably Burton, who said he was disgusted by his lies. The Dems were polite to an admitted liar and werenít buying Rogerís tepid explanations. It could just be Barack Obama is right that embedded partisanship puts the sides at odds simply by reflex. Then again, it probably didnít hurt having politically connected lawyers who, oh by the way, come from Houston. A city where Bush the father lives and which is in the state where Bush the son used to be governor. Thereís no proof word came down from above to go easy on Roger. But those facts, plus the fact that as a former owner of the Rangers the Prez has ties to major league baseball, make me wonder.
Most that I talk to, read and have heard on various talk shows now think Roger was on the juice. And he didnít do anything to make them change their mind, though as I said earlier, I wonder what would make a guy on easy street risk jail if he actually did it. But here are the two things I know are true. Either Brian McNamee or Roger Clemens is lying and should be held accountable. But after seeing what an impediment to getting things done for the right reason the overt partisanship on display at the pathetic Congressional performance is, I donít think either will. Second, after seeing Dan Burton and company in action, Iím more disgusted than ever with the whole bunch.
And to tell you the truth, I didnít think that was possible.
Dave Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billyís Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM Ė The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.