Friday, May 27, 2005

Congressional Daydream

"In a frosty exchange, NBA Commissioner David Stern bristled at a suggestion from Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) that last fall's brawl between Indiana Pacer Ron Artest and Detroit Piston fans should have triggered a test for steroids, which Lynch said are known to cause aggressive behavior."

Is it just me, or does it seem that the more off the wall the U.S. Congress gets on things like filibusters and end-of-life plug -pulling cases, the more they seem to be spending time on lecturing professional sports on the subject of steroids. In an interesting juxtaposition, last week a certain Mr. George Galloway visited the Senate from across the pond, which you may have heard about. Now Galloway appears to be a truly odious fellow, who's been in a particularly sour mood since the prospect of being held accountable as an enthusiastic supporter of Saddam Hussein has loomed. But that's not what I wanted to talk about, either. (What, you're in a hurry?) What's interesting is that virtually everybody, including people who consider Galloway untouchable without long tongs, agreed that Galloway slapped off their baseball caps and stole their lunch money in the joust, and everybody seemed to take pleasure in the spectacle. Characteristic was this passage from Christopher Hitchens:

In a small way--an exceedingly small way--this had the paradoxical effect of making me proud to be British. Parliament trains its sons in a hard school of debate and unscripted exchange, and so does the British Labour movement. You get your retaliation in first, you rise to a point of order, you heckle and you watch out for hecklers. The torpid majesty of a Senate proceeding does nothing to prepare you for a Galloway, who is in addition a man without embarrassment who has stayed just on the right side of many inquiries into his character and his accounting methods.

As it happened this morning I was all out of coffee and in need of something to get my capillaries open and my blood pumping, and I started to conjure this day-dream in which Ron Artest is being grilled by Rep. Lynch's committee, only now he is standing up, having had quite enough. Pointing a finger, he bellows "You have accused me of taking steroids without a shred of evidence in the most public of forums, Representative Lynch. You, sir, are a liar - and we've seen a lot more evidence here for that charge than you've ever presented to support your charges against me. As for the rest of you, you summon me here to testify,and smear up my name by doing so, just like you did when you brought Raf Palmeiro here, but you don't even have the cojones to admit what you're doing. You're not even made of the stuff to be principled, straightforward liars, like Mr. Lynch here.

I want to say emphatically for the public record that I have never taken steroids, and that I believe taking steroids is wrong because it is cheating. But I want to say one more thing" - and at this point, improbably, Ron Artest begins speaking in a booming, righteous, thespian Scottish brogue - "I recently did a bit of research on you fellows while you were so assiduously researching us. Did you know -but I bet you did - that in the 2002 elections, 96% of incumbents in this body won re-election? 96%! That in '98 and 2000 the number was 99%? Were you aware - but I bet you were - that in 2002, the average winning share of the vote was 68%? What a terribly popular group we are! No, no, Mr. Chairman, I'm not ready to sit down yet. I'm not finished.

And what I'd like to say is that what you are doing is wrong, and harmful to the nation. It is wrong for the same reason that taking steroids is wrong. GERRYMANDERING IS WRONG BECAUSE IT IS CHEATING,LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! And the only reason why gerrymandering is legal and steroids are illegal is that people like you use the former form of cheating and some people like me use the latter. Now, what I do for a living is not as important as what you do, but I'm proud to be a member of the NBA. A lot of people who are smarter than you or me both say that we do what we do a good deal better than you in Congress do what you do. I'm proud to be part of a genuine meritocracy. Truth is, if I had only a 2 or 3 percent chance of losing every time I took the floor, it could only be because the game was rigged, and pretty soon I'd be a fat and flabby and gassed out basketball player. Then there'd have to be a congressional investigation. And now, Mr. Chairman, I will sit down and you may speak."

That was my daydream as I was shaving today. Almost cut myself.