Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Confederacy of Dunces

Does this picture startle you? It scares the shit out of me. A face like this shouldn't be ubiquitous unless it's on the front of a box of oatmeal, should it? I don't think so. But apparently our intrepid representatives in D.C. think so, because Mitchell was back on his bully pulpit Tuesday, only it was on the taxpayer's dime as opposed to baseball's. Mind you, taxpayers have subsidized the latter to such a degree that it's irrelevant to distinguish between the two parties at this point.

I appreciate that Mitchell might have been at a loss for something to do now that he's both saved Ireland and saved the children of America from the dangers of improved bat speed, but a full congressional hearing seems like a bit of a reach for this particular workaholic. Perhaps I'm the only person standing in this particular line of thought, but the Mitchell Report felt a little light after the initial mediajaculation w/r/t the list of names. I'm not particularly interested in getting back into the particulars here, but suffice to say I can't imagine what on earth made Congress think that enough had changed post-report that a brand-new hearing needed to happen. And after reading Jayson Stark's live blog, I have no more of an idea than I did before.

What strikes me as interesting, though, is that these kinds of media circuses continue to take place. It's facile to say that politicians simply enjoy grandstanding, though that not to say it isn't true. However, politicians often act in accordance with maximum utility in mind; they rarely continue doing things that don't play well with constituents (at least not publicly), because nothing is more important than the next election for most career politicians. If you're to accept those premises, then clearly politicians have concluded things like the steroid hearings play well to the public and make them appear more ... congressional?

Despite its supposed status as a true marketplace of ideas — the ideal newspapers long claimed to represent despite the obviousness of that industry's inability to juggle unabridged honesty and the need to attract advertising — it appears the sports department of the blogosphere has adopted the same kind of ideological rigidity and hegemony that we often accuse the sports media of having. I can find nary a good sports blog that hasn't expressed some measure of outrage over these congressional hearings, not to mention fatigue over the steroid issue in general. If we're to believe that sports blogs represent the "common man's" outlook on sports, then one would think the Henry Waxmans of the world would take the hint and stop interrogating Donald Fehr. But they haven't, which leads me to believe that we're all missing something here in the blogosphere.

It might be a reach, but I see this as analogous to Ron Paul's run for the Republican nomination. If the primaries were held on the internet, Paul would win in a landslide not seen since the last time Fidel Castro held an "election." The momentum his campaign has generated on the internet — not to mention the insane outpouring of campaign contributions that is composed almost entirely of small donations counted in the low hundreds — would lead one to believe that Paul is not only a viable candidate (he's almost certainly not, which causes me no small amount of sadness) but that his ideas really hold water with a large percentage of the American populace.

Such must be the same with steroids in baseball. The interweb cognoscenti has thrown up its hands and said that we're all tired of it, but obviously has miscalulated exactly who the "royal we" in this case represents. Leeches don't affix themselves to corpses, only bodies that still pump blood; the fact that the U.S. Congress is still involved indicates that the heart of the steroid issue is still pumping. Now, it's just a matter of figuring out why, and perhaps in the process discovering if maybe we're the ones who are missing something.

I realize there's no point to this, but I just felt like riffing.


Big C said...

Although we differ slightly on the various nuances of the steroid issue, I couldn't agree more about your disdain for all of this occurring on the congressional stage. It kills me that my tax dollars are being used for this sort of tripe.

Disinterest in the blog realm stems from what you aptly pointed out as fatigue. I think we're just all ranted out on this one. I know I am.

That said, I think the vital factor that we and the rest of the blogosphere are missing here is: the effect of Old People. They are a pretty significant portion of our population, I gather, and a particularly large chunk of the voting/policymaking body. I mean, besides you and I, I would be interested to know how many of us in the blog world actually go out and vote. To understand the Old Person is to understand the reason why the congressional and mainstream press clings to topics/candidates/ideas that have long fallen out of fashion with the technorati.

I present to you the case of my own grandmother. She is 88 years old and resides in Essexville, Michigan (a small, rural, primarily farming town that basically served as a workers-commune for the GM plant before it shut down). She's sharp as a tack, but shuns the computer like smallpox. She's trilingual, has read about 10,000 books (a copy of 1776 was on her kitchen table during my visit in August), and is the world's most finely-tuned lie detector. A polygraph aint got shit on my Mim.

However, due to the fact that she is nary even aware of the blogosphere and rarely even watches TV, for that matter, the only news that she gets comes from the local rag. During my visit, one of my uncles came to Mim's house with a copy of the Bay City Times' sports page under his arm. The cover was a story about Curtis Granderson and just below it was an article about; you guessed it, steroids.

Before this turns into a novel, let me just cut to the chase: This shit matters to Old People, who are usually the only ones that vote and write letters; so there is every reason for a cause-seeking congressman (an Old Person himself)to take up the frenzied pursuit in this Voltairian farce. After all, anything is better than letting America's attention turn in full force to the Iraq debacle, the slow erosion of our freedoms by the current presidential administration, or our impending financial recession. Send in the clowns.

Shyster said...

Diesel -- Neyer's new piece (just up within the past 20 minutes or so) is a link to my link of this post. He gives you a name shoutout, but doesn't link here directly (confessing that he's not sure about the etiquitte of such things).

Just wanted to let you know.


b said...

Re: "If the primaries were held on the internet, Paul would win in a landslide"

Yet another example of how having more MySpace friends doesn’t add up to squat. Big C explains it better, but perhaps if some of those people who believe Ron Paul’s platform coincides with theirs, some of them would actually trek their do-good-ing asses to the local elementary school or church to vote.

Less than 20% of voters turned out for the Michigan primary Monday - Michigan, focal point of the nation’s crumbling economy, by the effing way - pathetic.