|Roger Clemens and the Three Ring Circus|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 14, 2008
As hard as it is to believe some of them actually made George W. seem smart by comparison.Â This shouldnâ€™t have been a partisan issue and this shouldnâ€™t have a time for members of Congress to sycophantically suck up to Roger Clemens but it was. Apparently that was part of his strategy and I thought it was revolting.Â From what I observed, nobody seemed to have come into the proceedings with an unbiased view nor seemed to be there to actually listen to what the witnesses had to say - they came to browbeat either Clemens or McNamee and have a nice photo op while they were doing it.
Most of the lawmakers didnâ€™t seem to care much about the real topic of the day, which wasnâ€™t whether or not Clemens was guilty but about the veracity of the Mitchell Report.Â Everyone was there, or watching on TV or listening on sports radio, because it was a circus and both of the main witnesses were obviously clowns.
But there were a few Congressmen who seemed to actually care about this issue and if it werenâ€™t for Representatives Henry Waxman and Tom Davis this hearing could have gone much further astray that it did.
And did it resolve anything?Â Â Yes, actually it did, it strengthened the belief that the much maligned Mitchell report is a very credible document.Â Â That didnâ€™t really come from the hearings themselves, but from the investigative process leading up to up to it.Â Â Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, former Yankees teammates with Clemens testified that what McNamee said about them was true, and Pettitte even dropped a bombshell when he stated that Clemens mentioned to him in conversation that he used HGH.
It was one of the many credibility hits that Clemens had to deal with on Wednesday but he wasnâ€™t the only one to struggle when confronted with facts, opinions and innuendo.Â Â The treatment of McNamee, largely by Republicans who sucked up to Clemens, was characterized as â€śpublic floggingâ€ť by one if his lawyers,
But Clemens was his own worst enemy in that room.Â For all of his skill on the mound and all of his protestations of innocence he was hard to believe.Â Â Itâ€™s hard to figure out why any attorney would have allowed Clemens to get involved in this debacle - why would he allow Clemens the freedom to make himself look so bad?
Maybe Clemens' ego overrode common sense, or maybe he surrounded himself with lawyers who were yes men, but from the get go this was ugly.Â Â Clemens gave off the same air as the desperate Enron executives did as their ship was sinking underneath them, when he went to lobby members of the committee personally behind closed doors.Â Thereâ€™s no doubt that he signed autographs, posed for photos, explained what a good ole boy he was, and made sure that the representatives â€śknewâ€ť they were good friends with one of the legends of modern game.
And to a degree it seemed to give him some friends in the hearing chamber.Â At least half of the committee offered up softball type questions when they spoke to him and took the figurative whip to Mr. McNamee.Â They jumped to his defense when Clemens was subject to lies of questioning which caught him off guard and clearly rallied by him at times.
But they couldnâ€™t protect him from himself.Â Â No, Roger strangely looked like he was tampering with witnesses when he and his attorneys took close to a week to get a name and contact information for a former nanny back to the Congressional investigators. Or why his lawyers allowed Clemens to invite the nanny to his home to discuss the incident in question before turning over the information - after they had been asked by the investigators, not to talk to the woman before they did.
Then there was the shifting of blame.Â Â Clemens tried to shift it to just about everyone save manufacturers of HGH and Winstrol.Â Everyone from his agent, to the players union, to Mr. McNamee, to Senator Mitchell and his investigators, to his mother for his taste for vitamin B-12, everyone took a little of the blame for Roger.Â The problem is that there were just too many shifts and turns and dodges for him to come off as credible.
As far as I am concerned, that lack of credibility pretty well convicted Clemens in the court of public opinion. In addition, by testifying before the committee he may also have done himself a poor turn if the Justice Department decides to investigate with thoughts of charging him with perjury.
If they do, letâ€™s not forget the bloody gauze.Â No itâ€™s not quite the same as O.J. and the bloody glove, but the needles and gauze could contain Rogerâ€™s DNA as well as residue of HGH or steroids and provide further physical evidence if a criminal investigation is launched for perjury - and no jury in the world would acquit based upon a claim that the needle didnâ€™t fit.
Like every circus this one has a number of acts and there will be plenty more in the future, including potential criminal prosecution, defamation lawsuits, and watching Clemens try to sell himself as being pure as the Ivory Snow girl to those whoâ€™ll be voting him into the Hall of Fame.