Today in Washington was Day 2 of hearings on “The Mitchell Report: The Illegal Use of Steroids in Major League Baseball”. It started at 11am EST and ended about an hour ago.
I was able to watch some of it on CNBC and CNN and it was compelling drama. Roger Clemens sat at the same table with his former trainer Brian McNamee, separated only by Mitchell Report lawyer Charles Scheeler.
There are two questions that interest me: (1) Is Clemens lying about not taking HGH and steroids? (2) What authority does Congress have to conduct these hearings?
As far as (1), it seems clear that Clemens is lying and did in fact take performance enhancing drugs.
Moving from less to most compelling evidence, he just doesn’t have the feel of telling the truth when he speaks. He seems angry and defensive and contrived. McNamee, by contrast, seems congruent and transparent. Clemens has been the same way since the very beginning: angry (see, for example, his 60 minutes appearance).
More compelling, why would Brian McNamee lie? He has so much to lose from lying ranging from criminal prosecution to the loss of his career. The only possible motive would be something like envy or personal hatred for Roger Clemens.
And, finally, the truly compelling piece of evidence is that Clemens’s friend and former teammate, Andy Pettitte, appears to have essentially corroborated McNamee’s testimony in a deposition he gave to Congress.
What possible motive could Pettitte have to do in his former friend? Clemens claims that Pettitte misunderstood him, “misremembers” is the term Clemens used, but I find that highly unplausible. Why would Pettitte say he was absolutely certain if there was any doubt in his mind?
To turn to (2), the other thing that struck me about this whole spectacle is the sanctimonious Congressmen berating Clemens and McNamee.
Darrell Issa told McNamee that he’s a “drug dealer” and should be “ashamed” of himself.
Another Congressman made a big scene in defense of Clemens asking McNamee countless times if he lied about things he said in the past, going back years, before all of this came out – of course he lied then! – and then trying to use that as evidence that McNamee was not credible.
He concluded by saying that he hadn’t seen “any evidence” that Clemens had used performance enhancing drugs. Puhhh-leasse!!!! His anger and righteousness were ridiculous – though entertaining.
One of the women congressmen said that Clemens looked to be physically the same size to her in four pictures from different time periods, some before and some after the allegations of when he took steroids. Well then he must be innocent! Maybe she should check him out in private to make sure.
She then asked him if he wanted to describe his intense physical conditioning regime. Yes, that’s what Congress should spend its time on: listening to a professional athelete explain how he does interval training and does 3 sets of 10 of this and that.
And countless other ridiculous moments.
I don’t know why Clemens would submit himself to this circus. These are lawmakers not judges. Clemens had no obligation to appear before them and placate himself in this forum. He probably should’ve just waited for a court of law, if that’s the route the government ultimately wanted to take.
I don’t see the point of this kind of hearing. What does it accomplish? Either prove your case in a court of law or drop it. What purpose does this kind of public spectacle serve except to humiliate Roger Clemens and make clowns of our Congress? They are butting into a matter outside of their sphere of authority and acting as the fascists they’ve become.
To sum up, today’s hearings reflect two insidious forces in our society.
First, as far as Clemens and the rampant use of harmful, performance enhancing drugs in sports, it illustrates how our society places winning and success above everything else. Character, doing the right thing, conducting yourself in the right way – nobody, in their heart of hearts, cares.
Second, it illustrates the extent to which our federal government has become fascist. They butt their noses into every little matter of private life and conduct themselves with the authority and manner of those with the power to put citizens behind bars.