Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Summary & Analysis of Today's Congressional Hearings on Steroids

Well, it was great drama today up on the Hill. Three men were sworn in & testified before the House Oversight Committee: Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee, and Charles Scheeler (Who? He was an assistant in Senator Mitchell's investigation, and today, little more than a potted plant in the room to keep Clemens & McNamee from swinging at each other). I was able to arrange my schedule to watch most of the almost 5 hours of statements & sworn testimony. The highlights in my mind:

• There is a growing mountain of evidence against the claims of Roger Clemens. Brian McNamee's testimony is supported by claims from former Major Leaguer Chuck Knoblauch & current pitcher Andy Pettitte that McNamee was indeed telling the truth about THEIR past use of performance enhancing drugs (PED's). Also, by his multiple testimonies, Pettitte is convinced that Clemens admitted his use of PED's to him almost 10 years ago. And there was medical evidence presented that the abscess that Clemens developed on his hind parts were likely caused by a steroid injection -- and that it almost certainly was NOT from a B-12 injection. There's more, but the evidence is credible, there's a large amount of it, and I believe that it is damning.

• When there are politicians involved, you know that not everything is above the table. And there was certainly a fair amount of politicking and grandstanding in that hearing today.

Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) grilled Brian McNamee for lying to police officers & investigators in the past. The Committee Chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), apologized to Brian McNamee in the closing statements (which included a dramatic gavel down of a Clemens interruption) for what had to be his shame over the antics of Rep. Burton. Burton's line of questioning did little more than demonstrate that Brian McNamee lies when it is convenient for him. Well, due to the plea agreement between he & federal investigators, it is nothing if not inconvenient for him to tell any lies about his history with PED's. Yes, he is a dirty person. But unfortunately, the witnesses in these kinds of cases tend not to be people with unblemished character. In this individual's mind, Brian McNamee, on the subject of Roger Clemens' PED usage, is believable beyond a reasonable doubt.

• As a moderate conservative, I was extremely disappointed by the performance of the Republican Representatives today. Almost in lockstep, they seemed to make excuses for Clemens & sought to discredit Brian McNamee. Also, again almost in lockstep, many of the Republicans demeaned the idea of even having that particular hearing today.

What was THAT all about?

This is not a partisan issue. It almost stretches the imagination in the direction of conspiracy theories. It is an election year. Is it possible that Roger Clemens promised a little cash in return for a cushioned reception at today's hearings? I'm just thinking out loud. But the behavior of the Republicans today was highly partisan, obstructed the flow of the hearing, and was just distasteful overall.

• Overall, Clemens looks like the liar. Brian McNamee proves himself better able to offer credible explanations to questions & better able to recall details of the last 10 years. Clemens offers explanations that strain credibility, and he appears less able to recall the details that are pertinent to possible steroid usage.

Also, Clemens appears to have a duplicitous nature -- that is, he appears oddly comfortable living with inconsistencies. When Clemens was questioned about Pettitte's statements, he didn't budge on the idea of Andy Pettitte always being an honest person even when presented with testimony that did not fit with his own. This is the sure sign of a liar.

As George Costanza once waxed eloquent on the hit television series, Seinfeld, "It's not a lie if you believe it." Clemens is very passionate about his version of events. But when you try to piece all of it together, the puzzle pieces don't all fit very well. We have yet to see what will come of this in terms of perjury charges and the like. But little doubt remains in my mind that Roger Clemens is a liar.

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