The great Roman orator and senator Cicero famously noted in 44 BC that those who wish to function in government and watch over the affairs of the public should remember two things.
1) to keep the best interests of the people so clearly in view that, whatever their own interests, those of the people will guide their conduct
2) to care for the well being of the whole body politic, and not that of any one party, especially not one which is prepared to betray the interests of the state for its own gain*
In 2010 the problems facing our government are numerous and grave. There is oil in the Gulf of Mexico and a fledgling economy.
While we have finally concluded a seven-year campaign in Iraq, we are deeply entrenched in an ongoing war to root out terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Our school systems still leave children behind, border states are struggling to figure out how to deal with ever increasing illegal immigrant populations, and of course our “global” is still “warming”.
Yet just yesterday Congress decided that an issue that requires further investigation, resources and taxpayer dollars is the two year case involving possible perjury of a now retired baseball player.
I’m not here to argue or hash out the sordid details surrounding the Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee case. There aren’t too many stones that have gone un-covered involving this case.
Popular opinion is that Clemens did knowingly use HGH and B12 vitamins. Popular opinion is that Clemens is a scoundrel who when confronted on the issue threw his wife under the bus and probably lied to Congress about his use of the drugs. Will it help to prove that he lied?
That really is no longer important. The role of government is to protect and serve its populace’s best interests.
Congressional hearings helped to force change in Major League Baseball’s drug testing policy. It contributed to an ongoing effort to rid the sport of performance enhancing drugs and educate people on the dangers of steroid and human growth hormone abuse.
But will the American public, who is sponsoring this ongoing investigation, see a direct or even indirect benefit to the further prosecution of one man?
Can proving acts of perjury against a man who has suffered the immeasurable indignation and condemnations of being publicly outed as a doper, cheater, and liar show itself valuable to society?
It seems easy to garner the public’s eye by trotting celebrities before congressional subcommittees. Senator Joseph McCarthy certainly reaped the benefit of such charades. For the congressmen and women there is no better way to get their face on camera and before their constituents than by openly indicting the recognizable.
However, when the smoke is cleared and the mirrors removed we will find that we are as a body no better than we were. Thomas Hobbes said, communities submit to rule of government with understanding that it is establishes “safety and public order”.* In the face of all the other turmoil that faces our country and world, I fail to see how further accusation and prosecution of the former Cy Young Winner will provide either.
*Cicero, De officiis, 44 BCE *Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651
*Cicero, De officiis, 44 BCE
*Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651