Capitol Hill should focus on real issues -- not sports
Posted: Monday December 5, 2005 1:11PM; Updated: Monday December 5, 2005 1:38PM
The high-profile steroids hearings opened up a Pandora's Box of more Congressional interest in sports.
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The biggest baseball story of the year took place on Capitol Hill. And what did we learn at the hearings into steroids? Not much. But they did signal that Congress was serious about performance-enhancing drug use in baseball --which is a valid concern, seeing as how kids are using them, too. So, with a legislative Sword of Damocles hanging over it, MLB pushed through a tougher testing policy.
Could Congress have achieved the same result -- pressuring baseball with the threat of new legislation -- without the hearings? I don't see why not. But that would have deprived everyone of a chance to hold hearings that the general public might actually watch. (Chances are, if you are reading -- or writing -- this column, you don't watch as much C-Span as you feel like you should.)
That kind of public interest wasn't lost on Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) or House Energy and Commerce committee chair Joe Barton (R-Tex.) The former suggested that Congress should look into l'affaire T.O. (which he's since backed off); the latter announced a subcommittee would hold hearings on the BCS, which he said produces "sniping."
Oh, no. Not sniping.
I don't want to get all Mr. Bechtel Goes to Washington here, but this is not only ridiculous, it's an insult to those Americans who are affected by the real issues facing the nation -- issues these two camera-baskers are trivializing by suggesting we back-burner them in favor of determining if an employer should be allowed to fire a malcontent millionaire and whether the Longhorns are really as good as we think.
There's a war going on. You can't fill up a car with gas for less than the cost of a very nice suit. Issues like these are significant to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee (on which Specter sits) and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Whether or not Notre Dame has it too easy in the BCS isn't.
But the President's approval rating is hovering around Albert Pujols' batting average, and midterm elections are coming up. I'm not blaming the Republicans, so don't start with the letters. I think the President's approval rating is a reflection on how many Americans feel about the job the government as a whole is doing, not just the President. Any incumbent whose term is up, Democrat or Republican, with half a brain should be worried. So what's an easy way to curry favor with voters? Take on an issue you think they care about.
You know what? In flusher times, this might work. A Congressman might be able to build up some goodwill by convincing the NCAA to institute a playoff. But not now, guys. Focus on what's important. If that means a few of your constituents go down to the corner tavern and "snipe" over who the best college football team in the land is, then so be it. Sometimes we like doing that.