Mark McGwire and the Authoritarian Reflex


By now you might have heard that baseball home run record-breaker and unrepentant ginger Mark McGwire, after nearly five years of awkward silence, has kicked off an Ari Fleischer-orchestrated (really!) apology tour in which he admitted that yes indeedy, he really did gobble various illegal-to-use-without-a-prescription substances in the 1990s to help recover from injuries and build trapezius muscle. If you are not appropriately outraged enough that the man refused to incriminate himself on the same issue when hauled in front of Congress in 2005, then you can thank a merciful Dieu that Brian Williams is there for you, night after nightly night:

More Christian (if less spell-checked) pronouncements of forgiveness were forthcoming from Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Rep. Lacy Clay, and the marvelously named St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. Meanwhile, insane ex-basketball coach Bobby Knight stakes out the extreme libertarian position:

"I have a different approach to performance-enhancing drugs than a lot of people do," Knight said. "My question is: Who decides what can be used and what can't be used?" […]

"Gatorade is a performance-enhancing substance. It replaces electrolytes in the human body that are used up during extreme exercise, so I've always had a real skeptical approach to all of this performance-enhancing stuff."

Leaving aside that and other thorny ethical/medical/baseballical issues, I continue to be struck by the sentencing disparity in the court of public opinion over this stuff. Alex Rodriguez, who might end up breaking the all-time home run record, lied his face off about using steroids, performed an about-face when caught on it, and within a few months when he was helping lead the Yankees to another World Championship it wasn't really coming up all that much. I doubt it will hinder his Hall of Fame election in the least. Call me a closet Bobby Knight, but I can't shake the suspicion that there is some outrage-premium applied not to jackass ballplayers who lie to the public, but to jackass ballplayers who, when called to make the perp walk on C-SPAN in front of the people who make the laws they might have broken, understandably (if embarrassingly) clam up.

Several links here taken from Baseball Primer. Reason on McGwire here.