Foul hearings

There was a different rocket’s red glare at the Capitol during Roger Clemens’ testimony.

The economy is teetering on the brink of a recession. Our armed forces are fighting two wars with no end in sight. Families are losing their homes all across the country as a result of the sub-prime loan debacle. Given these and other issues we would hope our government would be addressing, Congress’ choice to hold a four-hour hearing for former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens last Wednesday because of his suspected steroid use is absurd and insulting to the public.

After being implicated in former Sen. George Mitchell’s December report to Congress about the use of steroids in baseball, Clemens and his lawyers requested a hearing before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Clemens made his case, and in doing so demonstrated that he has no problem with lying, no matter how transparently, to protect what is now his very tarnished legacy.

The representatives hearing his testimony decided to draw partisan lines, with Democrats attacking Clemens and Republicans attacking his accuser, former Yankees trainer Brian McNamee. If Congress can’t even discuss steroids objectively without picking political sides, it leaves very little hope that other problems will be handled in a more mature fashion. Even the chairman of the committee, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said that he was sorry to have called the hearing by Friday, with Democrats and Republicans embarrassing themselves nearly as much as Clemens did.

And we shouldn’t forget last month, with Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., suggesting holding a hearing not about the tapes of water boarding destroyed by the CIA., but about the New England Patriots destroying tapes they filmed of another team practicing.

Perhaps if former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales learns how to throw a fastball, Congress will finally make him appear and answer questions about the politicization of the Justice Department during his tenure. Clemens may have soiled the reputation of a national pastime, but Gonzales and his ilk have soiled the reputation of a nation. There is no question which crime is worse, and which one deserves the attention of Congress.