A former Red Sox pitcher and his disreputable trainer led Congress on a five-hour sojourn into evasiveness, equivocation and embarrassment Wednesday, which ended withwell, it just ended.

The testimony proved nothing about the dueling allegations of Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee except what was known: neither is telling the whole truth – just their respective version of it.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he was inclined to cancel Wednesday’s hearing, but yielded to Clemens’ plea for a public hearing.

We wish Waxman trusted his instinct, since all the hearing concluded was Congress should have ended its baseball obsession long ago.

Congress has traveled a treacherous road in investigating baseball since its first steroid hearings in 2005. Now, the partisanship that occurred during Wednesday’s hearing makes us wonder why it was convened, as members of America’s most prestigious legislative body only disagreed, along party lines, about which man is more guilty.

The hearing featured some stirring rebukes for both Clemens and McNamee. But in damning both, the committee only served to damn themselves, and prove it’s high time Congress departs this playing field.

In 2005, Congress investigated baseball under the rationale Major League Baseball hadn’t. Retired and current players were summoned before lawmakers, where they made regrettable soundbites and big headlines.

“I’m not here to talk about the past,” will follow slugger Mark McGwire to his grave, as will the untruths of the disgraced Rafael Palmeiro, whose lies about drug use were later exposed by a blood test.

Congress did light a fire, though, and baseball and former Maine Sen. George Mitchell carried the torch.

The player’s union and MLB united to reform drug-testing policies. Then the Mitchell report – to the best of its ability – researched the steroid picture and recommended further actions. Baseball and its fans embraced it.

So should have Congress, instead of re-entering the baseball fray with Wednesday’s pointless hearing on the Mitchell report’s veracity, which is the core of the disagreement between Clemens and McNamee.

Congress would have been wiser to support the report, let baseball continue its work, and, most important, let McNamee and Clemens play “he said, he said” in a civil court far from Capitol Hill.

Instead, Congress succumbed to the spectacle that was Wednesday’s hearing. It craved the spotlight, and resisted acting in its best interest, just like the players it is criticizing.

So, before any more credibility is lost, Congress should hang up its spikes about baseball.

While it remains possible to tell the difference between players and politicians.


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