Thursday, February 14, 2008

Clemens' testimony isn't helping

Survivor, American Idol and Big Brother have nothing on congressional hearings. Yesterday gave us four and a half of the best hours of reality television, with Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee squaring in a Washington battle royale where two men entered and only one would leave – with his dignity.

And that man was Brian McNamee. Cool, calm and to the point, the former New York City police officer/trainer/dope dealer started off the hearings with a bang. Clemens, on the other hand, seemed about as prepared as Miss South Carolina. With his lack of focus and embarrassing off topic rants, I was half expecting to see Marsha Clark sitting behind him. The guy is pleading his innocence to preserve his entire legacy, and all he could do was stammer his way through predetermined questions from people he’s already had interviews with.

The whole day started off with an omen. Apparently, Clemens’ lawyers were the ones that got this whole shindig to go down, which basically means that with the facts standing by themselves, it spelled doom for Clemens. So the former Cy Young winner came out full of anger, trying to look as innocent as possible. I doubt anyone changed their minds as that point. But it wasn’t like McNamee’s opening statement was impressive either. Just a bunch of stuff we already knew.

So we go on to learn that Andy Pettitte told investigators that the Rocket told him that he used HGH. Yeah, that’s not good. This is when Roger goes on to say that Pettitte “misremembers”, a word that he will use roughly 100,000 times throughout the day. When asked about why Pettitte and his wife would lie about his best friend taking steroids, all Clemens could come up with was that he must have mistaken that conversation with another they had talking about watching a commercial. It’s pretty much over from here. Clemens’ story is unbelievable, and there is no way in hell Andy Pettitte would lie about his closest friend taking illegal drugs.

Then came the throwaway argument: a party at Jose Canseco’s house. McNamee says Clemens was at a party which he obviously wasn’t, according to anyone who could remember it, including Canseco himself. I kept asking myself, “why does this matter?” It had nothing to do with anything. At worst, people could say McNamee is a liar, at best that he “misremembered”. But if you’re going to liar route, which is about snowball, let me remind you about Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, two men who threw away everything to support McNamee’s claims.

After some shady testimony from Clemens, one of the lowlights of the day reared its ugly head. And the ugliness would come in the form of Rep. Dan Burton. I would bet money that he was drunk. He laughed McNamee, repeatedly called him a liar and even said that he was disgusting. He then went on to praise the Rocket’s career, followed by basically yelling at McNamee that he didn’t believe him. Though it was despicable, as possibly career-ending for Burton, it did come off as hurting McNamee’s case. But what nobody is talking about, and what sealed the deal for me, was what fellow Indiana Rep. Mark Souder said. Souder, the co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Drug Policy, explained that in most drug cases, offenders tend to just give you enough to leave them alone. McNamee lied at first, then came forward with a little, then a little more, then a little more. Burton calls McNamee a liar, which he is, but eventually the truth came out. It’s not that McNamee is making things up as he goes along, it’s just that he tried to protect his friends as long as he could. When talks about perjury and the government got involved, McNamee finally gave it up. If anything, his lies at the beginning show how much he can be trusted, if that makes any sense.

Look, to make a long story short, Clemens was banking on the fact that people would think McNamee is a liar, and is lying about his steroid use. But everyone not named Roger Clemens backs McNamee up, and even his lying at the beginning had a motive. Unless you are a conspiracy theorist who believes McNamee is being forced to lie, there is no way he would be making this up. Clemens on the other hand, has every reason to lie. He is the only one with anything left to lose. And the more he denies it, the deeper the consequences go.


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