Tomgram: Robert Lipsyte on Roger Clemens, Lame-Duck Pitcher

Recently, an ARG poll put George W. Bush’s job approval rating at an almost inconceivable low of 19%, giving “lame” a new meaning in the last lame-duck year of his presidency. Finally, recognizing a genuine opening, the Democratic Congress has been moving; in fact, the whole government seems to be lurching into action. Congressional hearings were held that split harshly along party lines. They focused on a big Republican pitch-man who, like so many before him in these last years, made outrageous claims and denials, while swearing that others had “misremembered” the facts. This time, however, the Democrats hung together and delivered a no-nonsense message to the White House via the Justice Department: We’re coming after your man. The FBI promptly began forming an investigation team. A prosecution now seems to be in the cards.

What makes this so remarkable is that Congress is no longer taking on lesser subjects like Iraq, torture policy, or the political staffing of the Justice Department. It’s attending to something of paramount significance to the nation, something that matters whether you live in Boston, New York, or Houston. But let Tomdispatch Jock Culture Correspondent Robert Lipsyte tell you the rest; the story of a man who actually does, in his own way, catch something essential about our last lamentable seven-plus years in Bush hell. Tom

The Monster Must Die!

Clemenstein, or the Post-Modern Prometheus

By Robert Lipsyte

“When all this happened, the former President of the United States found me in a deer blind in south Texas and expressed his concerns, that this was unbelievable, and to stay strong and… hold your head up high.” — Roger Clemens testifying before the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee.

The genius of Roger Clemens lies in the fact that he created the monster of himself. He is both Dr. Clemenstein, inventor of a more powerful man, and Clemenstein, the age-defying result, an ogre who defines ur-masculinity today. He is a big, white Republican who makes his own rules, lies, cheats, and mixes family values and intimidation. Roger Clemens also manipulated and sacrificed associates to accomplish his mission. He was able to do this not only because scientific additions made him bigger and stronger, but because subtractions enabled him to believe in the preeminence of the creature he had become. The drugs went in and the soul came out.

We will see him go down.

Of course, it’s too late to matter much; like the present President, he’s already done his damage. Clemens has proven — as have Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, among others — that Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) really work. This will mostly benefit Big Pharma when it renames such chemicals Health Enhancing Drugs (HEDs) and finds ways to prescribe them for the newly created disease of losing sports competitions. (Consider how the makers of Paxil made shyness into the diagnosable social anxiety disorder.)

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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