OUT OF LEFT FIELD
...during his testimony
Clemens' circus will come down to Hall of Fame Vote
By STAN ISAACS
After watching the baseball hearing shenanigans before Congress last week, I can understand why the Supreme Court people do not want their deliberations televised. If the justices come across anything like the clowns who emerge at Congressional hearings, it is best they hide themselves from the public.
It has been a week now but I still am in awe of the ludicrous performance of Indiana congressman Dan Burton at the Roger (misremember is a fine new word) Clemens hearings before Congress.
Burton, a Republican from one of the most solidly conservative (reactionary?) districts in Indiana, unloaded on Clemens accuser Brian McNamee as a liar. He got McNamee to admit all the times he had lied to authorities and the public about administering drugs to Clemens.
Burton conveniently ignored that McNamee was admitting to lying when he was trying to protect Clemens and other drug users. He had lied to authorities and the public when he was NOT under oath. Once he was under oath and told he could go to jail if he lied, he then admitted that he had injected steroids into Clemens and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) into others.
This seemed reasonable enough when at least two players, Andy Pettit and Chuck Knoblach, corroborated this; they admitted receiving HGH shots from McNamee.
Burtons grandstanding was no surprise because it solidified his standing as a buffoon. It was Burton who, at the time President Clinton was being investigated about financial proprieties, called Clinton a scumbag. Burton, who was one of those in the forefront calling for Clintons scalp at the time of the impeachment hearings, had a shady background of his own.
When there was talk that Vanity Fair magazine and an Indianapolis newspaper were about to reveal that he had sired a child out of wedlock, Burton quickly called his own press conference to admit his transgressions. Pundits and politicians in Indiana noted that Burton was notorious for scoring with interns and pages among others when he was in the Indiana General Assembly.
Burton was the loudest voice in the assault on McNamee in what deteriorated into a partisan hearing-the Republicans attacking McNamee and the Democrats setting their sights on Clemens. Much smoother than Burton was Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, one of the few representatives to receive a 100 per cent rating from the American Conservative Union.
She was openly skeptical when McNamee said he was not writing a book about this situation nor expecting to gain from it financially. She produced four large photos of Clemens at various stages of his career and said, innocently, that she didnt know much about baseball but she couldnt see that Clemens body was any more muscular in the later photos which, of course, were selected by her staff. .
This sweet woman once was fingered by the organization Judicial Watch for hiding a $550,000 allocation in a transportation bill to fund an obscure Teapot Museum in North Carolina. Its enough to make you wonder if these people are fit to judge anybody.
Clemens lawyers made the shrewd move of trying to ingratiate their big guy by having him visit the committee members beforehand. He signed autographs for some staff people gushing at the idea of meeting such a celebrity. This may have backfired because Mark Souder, another Republican committee member from Indiana, wouldnt play the game.
Souder was one of the few committee members who refused Clemens request for a private meeting before the hearing. He was surprised by what he called the solid wall for Clemens on the Republican side. He said, It wasnt an accident that word got to me that hes a Republican or he said that President Bush called him.
In his testimony to the committee Clemens said that President Bushs father, the former President, told him to stay strong and hold your head up high. Clemens knew how to play to the Burtons; he portrayed himself as a patriot who represented Team U.S.A. in the World Baseball Classic, who spoke to the troops in Qatar, Kuwait and Afghanistan.
That didnt impress enough people because reports say 90 per cent of Americans dont believe him. As Rep. Souder said, the depositions against Clemens were fairly devastating.
People just dont believe that Andy Pettit, who trailed after his mentor Clemens like a puppy at times, misremembered the times Clemens talked to him about drugs.
Its not surprising that in this cockeyed world, the issue of whether Clemens is pursued by the authorities, whether he goes to jail or not, is not as crucial to rabid baseball fans as whether he is voted into the Hall of Fame in five years.
In that sense, I think an important witness in all of this is such as me--and my ilk. As a card-carrying member of the esteemed Baseball Writers Association of American, I participate in the Hall of Fame voting every year. I have not voted for Mark McGwire, I will have reservations about Barry Bonds when his situation is resolved. And I will misremember to vote for Clemens.
©2008 by Stan Isaacs. The Stan Isaacs caricature is ©2001 by Jim Hummel. This column first posted Feb. 18, 2008.
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