Thursday, February 14, 2008

Clemens, Steroids, and Irrationality

Looking for a voice of reason, a voice of sanity amidst the latest steroid hysteria? See Tommy Craggs' column at The New York Times' online newsletter for their sports magazine Play. Here's an excerpt, but read the whole thing:
The spirit of Bill Bennett hung over the proceedings like a foul ganja cloud. There was, for starters, the operative assumption that steroids and growth hormone are roughly equivalent. There was the demonization of a new substance (vitaminB12, you're up!). There was the offhand conflation of drug "use" and "abuse," even by some of those Republicans who went easiest on Clemens. There were the scary numbers plucked from the air -- the "millions of teenagers" using the stuff, according to Tom Davis, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. There was Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican, repeatedly calling McNamee "a drug dealer." And there was the old drug warrior Mark Souder, of Indiana, comparing McNamee's affidavit to something out of a meth or cocaine investigation and then working himself into a sputtering rage over baseball's omerta -- at one point citing a family in Baltimore whose house was firebombed and "all of them were killed, all their children, because they talked," which is sure to send ballplayers running to the Rayburn Building.

We've now become so unmoored from common sense that we turn to Darrell Issa, of all people -- the Republican largely responsible for the recall that handed the California governorship to a known steroid user -- as the closest thing to a voice of reason. "We are now heading down a road that starts looking like Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy's," Issa told the Albany Times Union. "We're looking for steroid users; we're looking for people who knew people. ... Congress has never prosecuted or pursued users of drugs. Pushers, yes. Users, no," he said, perhaps forgetting, in a moment generally full of clarity, the federal laws that punish those possessing drugs. "This really is about getting headline news."

The most remarkable aspect to me of all of this is the way that prosecutors have traded down in terms of the relative statures of the violations allegedly committed in order to trade up in terms of name. By this I mean that Brian McNamee's crimes far surpass those of Roger Clemens and yet because Clemens is a far bigger name we are seeing the equivalent of letting an unknown rapist get off because he squealed on a famous jaywalker.


g_rob said...

Nothing like a bunch of grandstanding legislators getting together to sanctimoniously berate others and listen to themselves talk.

dcat said...

And now Arlen Specter wants to look at the Spygate stuff -- which involves no lawbreaking, but rather internal league intrigue. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot . . .