There are two names in the news that, to our knowledge, have never before been linked: Roger Clemens and Rush Limbaugh.
Roger Clemens is the baseball pitcher, future Hall of Famer, six time winner of the game’s highest accolade for his craft, the Cy Young Award.
Before the 2003 season, he announced that it would be his last. That he sought only one more goal—to achieve 300 career victories. This he did in June. Everything after that was a valedictory.
In New York, each Clemens appearance was a love-fest. Beyond the ceremonies and the special Hum-Vee, he was accorded a priceless gift, as baseball people figure it: the Yankees let him be the “manager” for the last game of the regular season.
And away from his home stadium, it all became a victory lap, a farewell tour, a moveable feast. It was most emotional in Boston, a city which still loathed him because he left their beloved Red Sox after the 1996 season, a city which loathed him more because he wound up pitching for its hated rival, New York. In the middle of a vicious playoff series, Boston fans—who had once torn a poster of Clemens from the walls of their stadium—now stood as one, and roared, because he was making his last appearance in their stadium.
And when Clemens made his last major league appearance in Game Four of the 2003 World Series, at Miami, even the accolades in Boston were overshadowed. Not only did the fans on foreign ground cheer him, the rival players and even the manager cheered him in the middle of a World Series game.
Because that would be all we would see of him. The Rocket was going out on top, erasing years in which he was viewed as a great pitcher but an irresponsible person—disdainful of the fans and even his own teammates and unconcerned by the safety of opponents. He was considered a great pitcher, a perfect retirement, a man of his word, who said he was giving up the game and going home to be with his kids—getting out at the peak of his professional and personal success.
Yesterday, Roger Clemens signed a one-year contract to pitch for the Houston Astros in 2004. His retirement lasted exactly 80 days.
Of Limbaugh’s many targets, it is hard to pick a favorite. But if you enter “Rush Limbaugh” and “American Civil Liberties Union” or ACLU into an Internet search engine, you’ll get 8600 results.
Sample items taken from Mr. Limbaugh’s own website:
September 12th, 2003:
“If this guy had burned that flag,” Limbaugh said, “the ACLU and countless other groups would be down there supporting this guy’s right to desecrate old glory. But because he’s flying the American flag respectfully, none of the so-called civil libertarians makes a peep.”
September 23rd, 2003:
“The ACLU has decided they’re not going to appeal the Ninth Circuit’s decision to reinstate the California re-call election... They must not really care all that much about you stupid minorities and poor people.”
December 23rd, 2003:
“Where have all these so-called civil libertarians gone, the ACLU and the rest of them, claiming our government is overreaching?”
Maybe I’m over-reaching, but I don’t think Mr. Limbaugh likes the ACLU. And something else he has shown an antipathy to—the right to privacy. Again, from his own website:
August 22nd, 2003:
“I warned you about this ever-broadening interpretation of the so-called right to privacy. It’s not a ‘right’ specifically enumerated in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.”
A quote that makes an odd preface to this next one:
December 23rd, 2003:
“Now they need my medical records, my private medical records to find out if I’ve committed a crime called doctor shopping? They now have to invade my privacy to learn whether I have broken the law?
Yesterday, the ACLU filed a friend-of-the court brief supporting Mr. Limbaugh’s argument that the seizure of his private medical records was illegal, and Limbaugh gratefully accepted the ACLU’s help.
His attorney Roy Black said he and Limbaugh quote “are pleased that the ACLU has filed a motion” and added the seizure was, “also a threat to everyone’s fundamental right to privacy.”
To say nothing of (as Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Clemens would tell you—if they were talking about somebody besides themselves) everyone’s fundamental right to change their opinions on a dime, and contradict months and even years of their own conduct and beliefs – these demostrate everyone’s fundamental right , the un-generous among us might call, to hypocrisy.
This was the No. 1 story on 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann.' Countdown airs weeknights, 8 p.m. ET