Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bush: hypocrisy on steroids

I know what you’re thinking. . . you’re thinking this is going to be a post about some incredibly hypocritical thing done by our president—like so incredibly hypocritical, it’s like “hypocrisy on steroids!”

But, no, this really, quite literally, is a post about Bush’s hypocrisy on steroids.

Remember back in the 2004 SOTU when Bush, confronted by all the troubles and tribulations his reckless tax cuts and even more reckless foreign policy had wrought, decided to take some time to tackle a serious issue with global implications? Yes, I’m talking about steroid use in professional sports:

To help children make right choices, they need good examples. Athletics play such an important role in our society, but, unfortunately, some in professional sports are not setting much of an example. The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message -- that there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now.

That big “shortcuts to accomplishment” chuckle aside, it was rank hypocrisy at the time, because Bush, as a one-time minority owner of the Texas Rangers, knew that he and his fellow team owners looked the other way as players beefed up because it gave the fans what they supposedly wanted—higher power numbers—and the owners what they wanted—higher revenues.

But that’s old news. Fast forward to this week and you have the “no steroids” president welcoming the world champion St. Louis Cardinals at the White House. There were flubbed jokes by Bush and lamely obvious attempts to congratulate himself for his leadership by congratulating World Series MVP David Eckstein, but the real winner was when Bush tried to use a throwaway line from Cards manager Tony LaRussa to highlight his own “legendary” judgment skills and leadership style.

It’s a longish story, but the upshot of it is that Bush knew the Cardinals would be world champs because Tony LaRussa told him so, even though, when he did, things weren’t going so well for the Cards.

It turns out LaRussa just wanted to end on a positive note, and told Bush he believed in the team, even though, at that point in the season, he didn’t. GWB’s example of how belief in success trumps evidence to the contrary was based on a complete misread of his famous gut. As Bando puts it: “Bush finds affirmation in the fact that his outcome was correct, neglecting the reality that his process was horribly flawed. . . .” (Bando tells the whole story better than I do, so please check out his post.)

But that’s not the hypocrisy either! (Yes, I buried the lead.) You see, during the very week that this president who once railed against performance-enhancing drugs was honoring some high-performing baseball players, the Bush Administration was purging federal prosecutors they found politically undesirable—and one of the prosecutors forced out of his job was US attorney Kevin Ryan, the man heading the investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, aka BALCO.

BALCO is, of course, the supplements lab responsible for providing steroids and growth hormone—and all that other “wrong message”-sending stuff—to some of Baseball’s biggest stars. . . like Barry Bonds, for instance.

While many in the attorneys office will continue to work on the case, this move will certainly slow its progress just weeks before the start of a season where Bonds is slated to push past Hank Aaron as Baseball’s all-time career homerun leader. And Michael Raines, an attorney for Bonds, is feeling mighty good about it all:

I think if you get somebody in there who has got a sense of what they have done to try to develop a case against Barry, and they see all of the problems that [investigators] have created to try to prosecute Barry. . . I think a capable prosecutor is going to say, “There is no way we are going to tarnish the image of this office with trying to prosecute Barry Bonds.”

Now I have no idea if Bush and/or his DoJ henchmen have decided they have a particular stake in putting the BALCO case to bed, but whether or not this was its intent, the purely political move has clearly put the case in peril.

The hypocrisy, you ask? Same as it ever was. The PR presidency talks a good game—promising sunshine, lollipops, quick victory, no child left behind, hurricane relief, money for aids in Africa, and drug-free sports—but while its words are designed to win brownie points (no heck-of-a pun intended), its actions are designed to score political ones. . . truth, justice, and baseball be damned.

It’s like hypocrisy on steroids!

(Cross-posted to Daily Kos)

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds detail)


Blogger Billy said...

Most ballplayers today are taking homeopathic hgh oral spray because it's safe, undetectable, and legal for over the counter sales. As time goes on it seems it might be considered as benign a performance enhancer as coffee, aspirin, red bull, chewing tobacco, and bubble gum.

10:36 AM  

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