Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What A Day!

Today's hearing certainly didn't lack for drama. Someone obviously lied. Actually both of them probably lied about numerous things, and I don't know that we have any clearer picture of the central question -- did Roger 'roid -- than we had when the day began. Far too much was said about Roger Clemens' butt. All in all it was kind of pathetic on about eleven levels, but we knew it would be.

I was somewhat surprised that, Rep. Elijah Cummings' opening fusillade notwithstanding, McNamee took way more fire than Clemens did. Clemens was outright coddled by Rep. Tom Davis and others didn't unload on him in the way in which I thought they would. Some have suggested that this is the result of Clemens' recent lobbying efforts. That may be, but I think a lot more of it has to do with the nature of Congressional hearings and the nature of the legal system.

As to the first point, McNamee probably had an easier go of it in the press before today because he simply isn't as famous as Roger Clemens. "Drug trafficker may have lied" just isn't as newsworthy as "star athlete used steroids." Congress may occasionally get star struck, and they certainly are grandstanders, but they aren't newspapers. Rather than reveal something salacious, Congressmen want to appear to be tough. To be getting down to the bottom of things. To wag their fingers with righteous indignation while looking over the tops of eyeglasses which have slid ever so slightly down their nose. Because Clemens has been in the press so much and because McNamee has been relatively quiet, McNamee represented far cleaner canvass upon which Congress could paint.

As to the latter point -- and you may scoff hearing this from a lawyer -- I cannot overstate just how utterly important the concept of credibility is in the legal system. If you have lied in the past -- even about stuff that has nothing to do with your current testimony -- you are almost useless as a witness. If you cannot provide some overwhelmingly good reason for the lie -- like you had to save lives or something -- your word is spit. Thieves, murderers, rapists, and felons of all stripes routinely provide snitch testimony which puts people in jail. Liars almost never do.

Congress, lest we forget, is made up largely of lawyers, and the staffers who prep them for these hearings are almost exclusively members of the bar. Given their background and predispositions, they are going to react with great vengeance and furious anger at anyone before them with a reputation for lying. That's Brian McNamee, by his own admission. When you marry this with their interest in finger-wagging you have a perfect storm. McNamee never stood a chance today, because it's too easy to take shots at a liar in any kind of legal forum.

Not that Clemens came off wonderfully. He was still rough around the edges in that impatient, petulant, and cocky way in which we've all come to expect. Maybe he was trying to coach his nanny (although I think that exchange made Waxman look worse than Clemens). I still have no idea why he has fomented all of this. All that said, he came out the other side surprisingly intact, and I can't see any basis for thinking less of him today than we did a week ago. Many will probably think better of him for not losing his cool as much as they thought he would.

One thing we didn't learn today is whether or not Roger Clemens took steroids. The old circumstantial stuff was rehashed, and the new stuff came with equal amounts of he-said/he-said. I suppose the closest we came to real information was during the investigation of the abscesses on Clemens' right buttock. If finding out the definitive truth in this matter requires a closer examination of that, however, I may have to temporarily suspend this blog, because I don't think I can bring myself to think about it anymore.

So what did we get today? Here's a partial list:

Muck. Drama. Deceit. Drugs. Anger. Stupidity. Banality. Loyalty. Betrayal.

All we get tomorrow is pitchers and catchers reporting. And not a moment too soon.


Osmodious said...

Much better theater than any of the ludicrously phony 'reality' shows out there on the electronic-pabulum-server...

The question that I have been trying to answer (for weeks now) and haven't was brought into sharp relief throughout this proceeding, and especially at the end...

What, *exactly*, is Waxman's agenda here?

His apology to MacNamee actually annoyed me, and his demeanor over the past several weeks has just made me think he is a self-righteous hypocrite (but he's a politician, so that's supposedly assumed). But what is he expecting the endgame to be here, and what is to be gained from it?

Oh, at the risk of drawing attention away from my question above...does anyone else think he looks like the Cat In The Hat? (I know, people can't help their looks, blah blah blah...but, dude, get a nosejob)

Jason said...

Great wrap-up. Unfortunately for my, I was tied up at work from 2-4 today, so I missed some of the 2nd half including the finale. I feel like I missed the 4th quarter of the super bowl.


Thanks Craig for the great work!

Shyster said...

Osmodious: Waxman's agenda? Not sure if he has a specific one like Specter has for the NFL (i.e. cable is a big donor for him and he has had it in for the NFL ever since the NFL/Direct TV deal). For what it's worth, I think he's never seen a "somebody think of the children" issue that he won't grandstand. I also think he overestimates the public outrage over steroids. It's wide, sure, but it's pretty shallow.

And yes, he does look like the Cat in the Hat.

Jason: Thanks. I only wish I could have devoted more attention to it. Unfortunately, I still have this pesky paying job to consider. There was so much material upon which to riff, I could have typed my fingers off if I had put my mind to it.

Glasscock said...

BIG difference on credibility-

McNamee is corroborated by Pettitte and collaterally by Knoblauch, and on the Canseco party by Clemens's nanny.

Roger's "corroborated" by himself "It is so, because I said it is so, therefore it is so."

Shyster said...

I don't dispute that -- and frankly, I am more inclined to believe that Clemens did steroids than that he did not. When I talk about credibility here, I'm not talking about that broad issue, though. I'm talking about the specific statements which would/could be tried in a perjury case.

The statements that, in all likelihood, would be tested here aren't about whether Roger did steroids in any general sense (which Pettitte partially corroborates). It's McNamee's statement that he injected Roger vs. Roger's statement that he did not.

For that question in a perjury case, you only have Clemens word vs. McNamee's word. While Pettitte's statement could be offered for McNamee's overall truthfullness on the subject of steroids, he (a) has nothing to offer on whether or when McNamee injected Roger; and (b) even if he could corroborate that, his statements are far outweighed by all of McNamee's lies about steroids which were cataloged today.

Even if I'm wrong on that assumption (i.e. that there are multiple other statements which could come up in a perjury case), the fact of the matter is that you can't make such a case without calling McNamee as a witness. If you're a prosecutor and you call McNamee before a jury which properly excludes baseball obsessives like you and me, you're going to fall flat on your face, because cross examination on his past lies alone would take three times as long as his direct testimony about Clemens.

So, is McNamee telling the truth here? I'm inclined to believe he is. Try proving that, though, given how damaged of a witness he is.

Osmodious said...

Glass...there *is* a difference between a proven liar and a suspected liar.

As for the corroboration, Rocket does have the agreement of Canseco, which might seem worthless until you consider that this is the guy who was saying that EVERYONE was doing steroids, especially the 'big name' guys.

The bottom line here is that, much like politics these days (unfortunately) there is nothing anyone can say or show that will make anyone who believes either side truly reconsider. Minds are made up, and that's that...from now on, just like the endless Jim Rice debate, people will be using 'evidence' to show that Clemens did it, while others will be claiming that the same evidence proves he didn't. Pity.

The biggest thing I have taken away from all of this these past few months is that in America today, you truly are guilty until proven innocent...and that is just a shame.

Jason said...

"One's a liar; the other's convicted?"

Glasscock said...

You are referring to the wrong standard of proof by leaping to a theoretical perjury indictment.

Remember there's a defamation claim pending, that been removed to federal court , and well could be transferred to NYC.

The standard of proof there will simply be is it more likely than not that there was a defamation by McNamee's statement that he injected Clemens with steroids.

I doubt that an prosecutor would prosecute unless there is other evidence not yet disclosed. I suppose that any prudent prosecutor would allow the civil case to proceed first, including discovery of Roger's medical condition in addition to depositionsthe parties and other witnesses.

Meanwhile, the "works" that Mac stashed, will be analyzed for evidence - the chain of proof question raised at the hearing is a red herring.

Shyster said...

Sorry, I had perjury on my mind today.

Civil case: I don't think Clemens can prove by a preponderance that McNamee defamed him (the he-said/he-said goes both ways). He may be able to outspend McNamee and force him into giving up somehow, but I'd have to think his defamation case is mostly dead in the water.

But even if it -- or even if a perjury thing happens -- I can't agree with you that the chain of custody of the needles, etc. is a red herring. What did McNamee do with them in the years between collection and production? OK, maybe that's not chain of law enforcement custody, but there are about a zillion ways to cast doubt on those things, and as always, we have McNamee's credibility to consider.

If I Ran The World said...

I have to say, I think I can pretty much rest easy in the knowledge that this is the only place where a lawyer an a glass phallus argued over defamation and tautologies.

I can't, however, say with any certainty, how I feel about that. Confused? Concerned? Curious as to how one manuevers with a perpetually umm, 'non-flaccid' member that's susceptible to shattering?

Let's go with all of the above.

Nice job today Craig

PONCH said...

I liked the Samuel L. (or I guess I could say bible, but we all know you meant Samuel L.) hat tip.

Glasscock said...

Hey, "If I ran. . . " Here's the Glasscock

Anonymous said...

Curious--Andy is now a proven liar (2004 revelation).
Was this Andy "coming clean" or a strategy that could help Clemens?
Now Clemens' camp could also call Andy a liar.