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Roger Clemens and Eliot Spitzer: Hubris and the Cocoon

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Like most New Yorkers, I've been watching the news over the past few days with a mixture of astonishment and, well, astonishment, as Eliot Spitzer has completed the Tri-State Trifecta of disgraced gubernatorial resignations. That's right -- you forgot about John Rowland, right? So here's a prediction: voters and pols are going to start paying a lot more attention to a job just about no one says she or he really wants -- Lieutenant Governor!

But the Spitzer saga is really a boon to literature and religion teachers everywhere. Where else can you see such a classic, right out of Shakespeare and the Greeks, absolutely textbook, flesh and blood demonstration of hubris, the overweening pride that leads, inevitably and inexorably, to the collapse of a public figure?

Pride goeth before a fall, says the Good Book, and who in a state full of A-list Alpha males and females, had more pride oozing out of his pores than our ex-Governor? The first Jewish President? What was he thinking about?

And of all the whorehouses in all the world to patronize. Let's see. Spitzer is (until Monday) governor of the Empire State, and has tried running it as though it were his little kingdom, so of course he spends his high rolling roll at the Emperors Club! We don't even need Tom Wolfe any more to make this stuff up!

Which brings us, believe it or not, back to Roger Clemens, who lives in such a cocoon spun out of his own pride and wealth that he thinks he can make the steroids charge go away with bluster and assertions that are even internally contradictory. Even though he'd "never discussed" HGH with Brian McNamee, turns out he'd had a major discussion with him about his wife and HGH. So was it a discussion or not? Not in Roger-land, where the only measure of truth is what Roger says it is or was. Roger, too, mistakes himself for a god who can make the world believe what he says. He too, I don't mind predicting, will be hoist on the petard of overweening pride.

But the cocoon for ballplayers -- and we should be thinking about this as the season gets closer -- gets respun every spring. Even Andy Pettite, who at least had the good grace to admit he'd done what he'd done, says he wasn't cheating -- he was just doing it for the team, just trying to heal a little quicker to help out the team. Say what? If taking banned drugs is cheating, then the whole point of taking them is to heal quicker to help out the team so the team will WIN.

Yet more hubris. More cocoons trying to protect the wealthy and talented from the realities of human life, the realities most of us live with every day.