The iconic pitcher has been charged with lying to Congress, and the U.S. government should take those accusations seriously
It's easy to lump the federal government's case against legendary pitcher Roger Clemens together with its just-completed case against legendary slugger Barry Bonds and its ongoing investigation of legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong. All three men are world-famous athletes. All three are in varying degrees of trouble for their statements (or lack thereof) about performance-enhancing drugs. And all three thus have afforded law enforcement officials with the useful opportunity to at least try to remind the rest of us that there are, often, very bad consequences for failing to level with authorities when they ask pertinent questions about potential criminal activity (see, e.g., Stewart, Martha).
But United States v. Clemens is not merely the middle act in a modern morality play about public lying among the rich and famous. It warrants its own billing and deserves whatever legacy or precedent it creates. The government's case against Clemens, which begins with jury selection Wednesday at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C., is very different in law and fact than was the federal case against Bonds or is the federal probe of Armstrong. Clemens is charged with lying to Congress, not to a grand jury. And the case against Clemens--perjury and obstruction of justice--is far less complicated than is the one the feds are said to be contemplating against Armstrong. Each man may be hurting. But it's not the same headache.