I can safely say – now that it has come to fruition, of course –I was the very first person in the world to predict Roger Clemens would be acquitted.
I was there that day. I was the director of communications for the Republican staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. I was with Clemens and his lawyers in the staff lounge before the hearing. I thanked him for finally getting my beloved Houston Astros into the World Series. He politely thanked me. His lawyer, Rusty Hardin, let out a big, “There ya go.”
I was there when Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., made a rare visit to the Republican staff lounge to make sure Clemens understood Waxman could call off the hearing – moments before it was to begin – if Clemens wished. “Sir, I have to clear my name,” Clemens said. “Make sure you do not lie,” Waxman responded.
And Clemens didn’t lie – or didn’t seem to. He sat ramrod straight in his chair. He answered each question forthrightly, directly and clearly. He never evaded, double-talked or squirmed. Brian McNamee, his former trainer-turned-accuser, seemed to shrink further and further into his chair as the hearing progressed. His answers were indirect, wordy, unclear, evasive. Several times, the committee members had to ask him to speak up. It was as if the producers had ordered up a dodgy slimeball for the role of accuser, and the casting director had said, “I have just the guy.”
When it was over, I called my wife. She’s a big baseball fan and was dying to know how it all went. “There is no way Clemens is lying,” I told her. “And there is no way anyone will ever believe Brian McNamee about anything.”
“Umm …” she said in that voice that tells me I’ve overlooked some sun-sets-in-the-west-level detail. “The entirety of the New York media begs to differ.”
“They think Clemens did it?” I asked. “Yeah … the other guy said so, and they all believe him.”
I read their stories now, and they are sliming away from their certainty to various degrees. They’re writing about how unnecessary it all was and how the government can’t seem to convict anybody of steroid crimes. But that day, she was right; the entirety of the New York media thought Clemens had lied spectacularly.
I’ve never understood that. One guy says one thing. One guy with an equal amount to gain or lose says the other. Why was one believable and one not? Moreover, why is the guy who looks and seems so believable not the one they believe?