Well, the egregious waste of money in the Clemens prosecution was good for one thing — we get Pierce to weigh in:
We all should have seen the Clemens verdict coming from the end of the first trial when, in a veritable tsunami of flop-sweat, the prosecution tried to introduce evidence that Judge Reggie Walton had already excluded. Now, whether or not you believe that the prosecution tanked their own case on purpose because they knew it had been rendered a loser — something I believe more strongly after yesterday’s developments than I did at the time — or whether you believe the government’s lawyers thought Walton had fallen into a coma and wouldn’t notice what they were doing, trying Clemens a second time has to be the biggest waste of federal criminal-justice resources since the last time Alberto Gonzales drew a paycheck. At least the prosecutors in the Edwards case have decided to cut their losses and go home.
In our drug wars, all damage is collateral damage. We trash civil liberties, abuse prosecutorial discretion, countenance hopeless grandstanding among our political elites, and endow our judicial process with the essential — and extraordinarily un-American — dynamics of the witch hunt and the show trial. It was the former that ensnared Clemens in a perjury trap, and it was the latter in which the matter was adjudicated. The government brought this case because it needed a high-profile win to justify all the money and time it has wasted chasing everyone in baseball who ever looked sideways at a hypodermic needle. Off on the sidelines, the anti-drug industrial complex stood up and cheered, when it wasn’t spinning the old drug-warrior boogedy-boogedy that is its stock in trade every time drugs make the country crazy again. I listen these days to what comes out of, say, the United States Anti-Doping Agency and all I hear is Mel Brooks as the cross-eyed governor William J. LePetomaine from Blazing Saddles.
“We’ve got to protect our phony-baloney jobs, gentlemen.”
There’s a defense of the Clemens prosecution that maintains that lying to Congress is a serious offense. And, well, it is, but context also has to be considered; when setting priorities alleged lies to Congress told as part of pointless grandstanding steroid witch hunts should be near the bottom of the Department of Justice’s list of priorities. But even leaving aside the utter triviality of the alleged perjury, the defense collapses because the government obviously didn’t have a case. If not for the context of the steroid witch hunt, it’s inconceivable that a case this extraordinarily weak would have received more that cursory consideration to be brought to trial. “I just know he used steroids” might be good enough for a lot of hack sportswriters who should be stripped of their Hall of Fame voting privileges, but in a court of law, not so much. And the actual evidence presented by the government in this case consisted of the not-credible testimony of a single exceedingly impeachable witness.
This is also an important point:
In fact, one of the only things Clemens actually admitted to shooting up was lidocaine because, as we know, it is very moral to deaden the pain of your injuries so they can get worse as you play without your noticing it. Generations of crippled NFL players will attest to the essential ethics of that.
Well, yes, but how much does pumping up players full of painkillers so they can do damage to themselves threaten the sacrosanct hitting records of boomer heroes who should own those records in perpetuity? Unless it does, it’s hard to see how this can be a serious issue…