Friday, March 18, 2005

I'm not here to talk about the past.

Thursday, March 17, the House decided to waste the day pretending to be hard on baseball players expected of steriod abuse. NYT reports Commissioner Bud Selig Selig told the committee that the steroid problem in baseball had been blown out of proportion. "Do we have a major problem? No," he said..... Jose Canseco told the committee that steroids are dangerous and should be banned, the opposite of what he wrote in his book. Mr. Schilling said there was very little steroid use in baseball, the opposite of what he has told reporters in the past....

[But] Mark McGwire, one of the top home run hitters in baseball history, refused repeatedly during a Congressional hearing Thursday to say whether he used steroids while he played.... Mr. McGwire, who retired after the 2001 season, refused a request by Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, to give a clear answer about whether he had used steroids. "Are you taking the Fifth?" Mr. Cummings demanded. "I'm not here to discuss the past," Mr. McGwire responded. "I'm here to be positive about this subject." Representative William Lacy Clay, Democrat of Missouri, said: "Mr. McGwire, we are both fathers of young children. Both my son and daughter love sports and they look up to stars like you. Can we look at those children with a straight face and tell them that great players like you play the game with honesty and integrity?" Mr. McGwire replied, "Like I said earlier, I'm not going to go into the past and talk about my past." Yet Mr. McGwire offered to be a spokesman against steroids. "My message is steroids are bad, don't do them," he said.

The Chicago Tribune said The steroids hearing should be out at first.... It was said of one member of Congress that the most dangerous place in Washington was between him and a television camera. The same is true, though, of many of his colleagues, past and present..... We're at war in Iraq, at war in Afghanistan, threatened by Al Qaeda, mired in budget deficits, faced with gargantuan liabilities in Social Security and Medicare, struggling to sustain the fighting capacity of our military forces--and what does this committee think warrants its urgent attention? Whether a handful of overpaid entertainers are taking forbidden pills to improve their performance.... The hearing rests on two well-worn premises that ought to offend the conservative sensibilities of Republicans, who control this committee and Congress. The first is that absolutely everything is a federal responsibility. The second is that the private sector needs incessant guidance from government.

Robert Clayton Dean said Now the US Congress, apparently not satisfied with embarrassing itself* in its ongoing investigation into steroid use in major league baseball.... While at the gym yesterday, I caught a few minutes of the steroid hearings. It was painfully embarassing to see the solons of American governance earnestly seeking noted idiot Jose Canseco's advice on public policy. A quick survey of the fellows in the locker room revealed that this latest Congressional exercise in nannying competent adults and chasing headlines is not being well-received by the public. The universal sentiment was, "Don't they have anything better to do?"

Howard Kurtz said Mark McGwire, who hit 70 homers in '98, said he wouldn't dignify Canseco's charge that Jose had injected him with steroids by saying whether he or anyone else had used steroids. This non-denial denial made him look foolish and neutralized his sobs about the horrors of the drug. He may as well have stood up and shouted that he had cheated. And I write this as someone who admired the way he handled himself seven years ago.

Congress has many very important things to worry about. Why did they they decide they needed to waste the day browbeating some baseball players? Now if they wanted to actually pass some legislation to stop steroid use, that would have been one thing, but this hearing was a waste of time.


Happy Batson-Jones said...

Steriods are certainly a health problem for athletes, but I don't see this as a problem for Congress to solve.

Don Singleton said...

I agree they are a health problem for athletes, but the problem is that if they use them, then children may start using them to be like the athletes they admire, particularly children that want to excell in school sports in the hope they will make it to the pros when (and if) they grow up.

But if Congress wants to try to solve that problem, the people they should have in their hearings should be physicians, and possibly the league officials. Just calling current and former players does not make sense.