the gimme-a-freaking-break department: Rep. Thomas Davis of
Virginia, chair of the House Committee on Governmental Reform,
is leading an investigation into the possibility that Baltimore
Orioles slugger Rafael Palmeiro committed perjury during last
spring's steroids hearing.
Why is this ridiculous? This is ridiculous
because Davis found his righteous motivation to pursue the
case by watching Palemiro on TV, reading his statement regarding
his recent positive test for banned substances, and concluding,
from a distance, that Raffy was lying.
"I don't think it was inadvertent in
terms of getting in," Davis said in an interview on Fox
News Sunday. "I know he knew he was taking something."
Sen. Jim Bunning, the loony Kentucky Republican
who once said his electoral opponent resembled one of Saddam
Hussein's sons, responded to the Palmeiro scandal by declaring
his intention to push for laws that would mandate two-year
suspensions for athletes who use juice. Meanwhile, Rep. Patrick
McHenry of North Carolina, another righteous Republican, responded
to the Raffy mess by announcing that congress planned on being
more proactive in declaring jurisdiction over pro baseball,
"because of baseball's inability to police their own
Great to see all of these guys rushing to
protect the dignity of the national legislature from a dumb
Cuban jock who lied to protect his home run records. Except
for one thing: where were all of these assholes when the President
of the United States lied to congress? The parallels between
the Palmeiro case and the case of George Bush's communications
to congress before the war are extremely interesting, and
say a lot about what most members of congress imagine their
jobs to be.
The two cases have a lot in common. First
and foremost, in both the Palmeiro case and the Bush case,
at the time of their respective appearances/statements before
congress, it was obvious even to a five year-old that the
principal actors were lying through their teeth.
When Palmeiro stood up before congress looking
all tan and regal with his trimmed mustache and pulled his
O.J.-Simpson, "absolutely, positively, 100 percent not
guilty" routine, every baseball fan in the country spit
up his milk with laughter.
In the history of baseball, Palmeiro ranks
solidly as the sport's third-most laughingly obvious juicer,
well behind fellow Oriole Brady Anderson (a midget who overnight
went from being unable to reach the warning track on windy
day to hitting 50 homers in a season) but only just slightly
behind former Texas Ranger teammate Jose Canseco.
Raffy was more obvious than Barry Bonds, more
obvious than Mark McGwire, and more obvious than Jason Giambi.
When Palmeiro came up to the big leagues, he looked like a
fourth-string wide receiver for the Columbia Lions. He had
the slim build and the mustache of a male hooker working summers
in the Hamptons. He once led the league in singles. Then he
shares a locker room with Jose Canseco for a season, and next
thing you know, he's hitting 500 home runs. Give us a break.
So when Raffy stood up there in congress with
that pious expression and barked into the camera that business
about never having touched steroids, everyone in America knew
he was full of shit. I would imagine that even some members
of congress were sober enough at that moment to know something
was amiss. Even so, it took a positive test from major league
baseball for congress to come to the defense of the congressional
oath. Now, however, emboldened by public opinion and (more
importantly) by the promise of continued coverage on the only
news outlet in America that matters—ESPN—they're
all piling on Palmeiro as though he'd just sold state secrets
to the Baader-Meinhof gang.
But as ridiculous as Palmeiro's performance
before congress was, it paled in comparison to Bush's. There
are about a half-dozen separate incidents involving Bush and
congress that a truly awake and self-interested legislature
would look back on now and conclude, as this congress did
with Palmeiro, that its honor had been violated, warranting
swift punishment. Among those:
Worse still, congress let it happen. It abandoned
all pretence of collegial, bureaucratic self-defense. This
has become a habit with our legislature, which lately seems
to view its own oversight responsibilities not as precious
reservoir of political power, but as a terrible burden to
be shed at the earliest opportunity. Our congress long ago
gave away its constitutional power to declare or withhold
military action; lately, in matters like the Dick Cheney Energy
Task Force fiasco, it has rolled over repeatedly whenever
the executive branch has refused subpoenas or spat in the
face of congress's investigatory rights. And unlike the case
of Watergate, when congress united in bipartisan fashion to
oppose a president who flouted congressional authority, this
particular congress seems to love being pushed around by the
And after what happened in the fall of 2002
and the winter of 2003—when congress rolled over so
completely for Bush's idiotic Iraq plan that it resembled
the cat with its ass raised in Hogarth's Harlot's Progress—seeing
congress rise to protect its honor from the likes of Rafael
Palmeiro is side-splittingly hilarious comedy. It's like hearing
a toothless, 55 year-old Bushwick Avenue whore complain, ten
thousand blowjobs later, that her date didn't bring her flowers.
And they want baseball to apologize?