You Don't Gotta Believe
Rafael Palmeiro shows Scooter Libby how the pros beat the rap for perjury.
Thursday, Nov. 10, 2005
Stickball: At first, Scooter Libby's defense against perjury charges was "I forgot." His new lawyers gave him a new defense: "The First Amendment made me do it." Now, Republican soulmate and would-be cellmate Rafael Palmeiro offers yet another route: "Take my wife, please."
Today, while the New York Times was chasing trivial government abuses like a lobbyist selling foreign leaders meetings with the President for $9 million, the House Government Reform Committee released a 44-page report on its investigation into whether Palmeiro lied about taking steroids. At first, the Times' online headline was "Congressional Panel Clears Palmeiro." Perhaps someone looked at the report, because by midday, the headline read, "Congressional Panel Doesn't Charge Palmeiro."
The committee decided not to seek perjury charges against Palmeiro because it couldn't prove that the steroid he tested positive for on May 4 was in his system on March 17, when he told the committee he had "never used steroids, period." Ironically, the subject of that hearing was "Restoring Faith In America's Pastime." The committee report provides plenty of proof that along with steroids, the slogan "You Gotta Believe" should be banned from baseball.
Palmeiro claims that he tested positive because a syringe of B-12 he obtained from fellow Oriole Miguel Tejada must have been contaminated with steroids. Tejada provided other B-12 samples that were clean, and the Players Association lawyer who represented Palmeiro in his appeal admitted that all the evidence ran against his client's allegation. Another baseball official called Palmeiro's defense "far-fetched and odd."
Giddy-Up, Little Doggies: The report reveals just how much Maggie Thatcher's precious B-12 is now the shot heard 'round the world. Palmeiro said he started getting B-12 injections with the Texas Rangers. "When the doctor gave it to me I always had that little giddy-up," Palmeiro told the Washington Post yesterday.
Tejada said he has taken B-12 shots since he was 5 or 6 years old in the Dominican Republic. A teammate said he gave Tejada 40-45 B-12 injections in 2004, and 30-35 more this season.
When Jose Canseco alleged in his book Juiced that he and other home run kings like Palmeiro and Mark McGwire hung around the locker room injecting each other in the butt with steroids, most fans had two reactions: 1) Can't players with $20 million salaries pay someone else to do that for them?; and 2) Do they get a bonus for leading the league in being stupid?
But according to the House report, the hardest thing in baseball isn't getting the bat around on a 100 mph fastball – it's finding someone to stick a needle in your backside. With the Rangers, Palmeiro got the shots from the team physician. The Orioles team doctor won't give players B-12 shots – perhaps for the novel reason that injecting B-12 is against the law.
Spousal Consent: When no one else stepped up to the plate, Palmeiro asked his wife to do it. The report explains that Lynn Palmeiro knew how to inject her husband because their veterinarian had taught her to give allergy shots to their dogs. Oh, and one other reason: the Texas Rangers physician used to give Lynn Palmeiro her own illegal injections of B-12.
Bruce Reed, who was President Clinton's domestic policy adviser, is CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council and co-author with Rahm Emanuel of The Plan: Big Ideas for Change in America.E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his disclosure here.
Photograph of Barack Obama by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.