The recent revelation that a baseball player named Rafael Palmeiro allegedly lied during a Congressional hearing while giving testimony about his use of steroids has been one of those stories that just seems like filler to me – stuff they talk about because August is a slow news month.
I mean, really, who cares if million dollar babies in the sports world shoot up? If these jokers are your kids’ role models, then you suck as parents.
But now comes word that two wingers in the Congress – Rep. Thomas Davis, chair of the House Committee on Government Reform, and Sen. Jim Bunning, a wacko of the first order from Kentucky (both Gops, natch) want to go after this guy for giving false testimony to Congress.
As Matt Tabbi brilliantly points in New York Press, these guys are breaking audacious new ground in the annals of hypocrisy by going after a ball player while ignoring the lies that President Bush has told to Congress that have led to the deaths of tens of thousand of U.S. servicemembers and innocent people:
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.
—At a congressional leadership meeting on October 3, 2002, Bush made representations about Hussein’s nuclear capabilities that not only turned out not to have been true, but appear to have been based upon doctored or manipulated intelligence.
—In the State of the Union address a few months later, Bush made his famous “sixteen little words” gaffe about uranium from Africa—another bald misrepresentation.
—At another congressional leadership meeting in 2002, Bush made representations about Saddam Hussein’s ability to attack the U.S. using unmanned drones that turned out to be the bullshit they seemed even at the time.
—According to Senator Bob Graham, Bush consciously permitted bad intelligence to be passed to Congress throughout 2002; Graham considered this an act of lying to congress serious enough to warrant impeachment.
—The resolution Bush sought from Congress authorizing the attack of Iraq was based upon the idea that a regime of inspections would be given a chance to work. We all know the inspections were a sham—and if we could prove they were a sham, the resolution itself would be an act of lying to Congress.
But forgetting all of those specific instances, the entire case for the war was a farce, more ridiculous on its face by a factor of 10 than Brady Anderson’s 50-homer season. As has been noted often in this column space, the whole charade leading up to the war—the phony inspections regime, the fake drama in which congressional approval was “sought,” the utterly idiotic “evidence” of the imminent Iraqi threat offered on the floor of the House in the State of the Union address—all of this was a childish ruse, obvious to the dullest observer. And the thrust of all of it was that the U.S. Congress was used like a piece of meat, humped like a blow-up doll, crudely manipulated to give the Iraqi action the appearance of democratic legality.
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 a 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 executive branch.
And after what happened in the fall of 2002 and the winter of 2003, 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 Ave. whore complain—10,000 blowjobs later—that her date didn’t bring her flowers. And they want baseball to apologize?