Nobody is buying what Lance is selling

Nobody is buying what Lance is selling
January 16, 2013, 10:45 am
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Lance Armstrong has to do the one thing he is not constitutionally equipped to do – give up and give in. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

In case you forgot that Lance Armstrong is our new national piñata, The Onion has renewed its push to sell its “Cheat To Win” bracelets. And there’s never been a better time to hype them.

Armstrong is being worked over in ways that only a very few celebrities in history have. He stood for the indomitable and charitable spirit, the perfect exemplar, when it turned out that he was (a) a drugs cheat, which doesn’t make him particularly special, and (b) a thug and a bully.

And now with the rigors of the Oprah Winfrey interviewing style behind him, he is worse yet and merely (a) or (b). He is the vulnerable fraud, the guy who stood for none of the things he sold. And he’s trying to find his superficial redemption by a stage-managed partial mea culpa to a sympathetic ear instead of doing what America demands.

The full, unconditional perp walk.

Plus, he is trying to provide the government a plea bargain with conditions that include taking down the people who ran the sport he blackjacked for so long, a scorched-roadway plan which is the last refuge of the future defendant who has less leverage than he thinks he does.

This is, in short, one of the most spectacular celebrity meltdowns ever. He’s been stripped of everything he assembled, and strangely, it isn’t because he cheated at the Tour De France. Everyone cheats at the Tour De France. They sell EPO over crushed ice at snack stands at the Tour De France. If you’re not doping, you can’t even watch the Tour De France at home.

It’s because he threatened and bullied and strongarmed and intimidated people who had done his bidding and been his friends and confidants. It’s because he used people with a spectacular contempt, and is using them even now. Some may still be buying it, and that is their choice. But the weight of the evidence is being measured in the thousands of metric tons now, and the brave few who raged against the machine five years ago are now comforted by the knowledge that many others have their back.

That was Armstrong’s greatest failure of all. He ran a massive conspiracy while brazenly flouting the First Law Of Conspiracies – everyone in the conspiracy must be made and kept content. He ran his while making multiple people very unhappy, and some of them got so unhappy that they turned state’s evidence ON THEMSELVES to get a crack at him.

That’s how much the people who know Lance Armstrong hate him. And the collateral damage may include the Livestrong Foundation, which does some good work for cancer fighters (though as multiple sources have shown, not as much for research, via Outside Magazine: http://tinyurl.com/76u6tou) and the entire cycling establishment.

Yet in offering the scorched roadway he mostly dry-roasted himself, and after his latest canvas, the Oprah confessions, is rejected for cause, he will either have to submit to less congenial questioning or the tender arms of the U.S. Government, which seems to want him in ways that it never even wanted Barry Bonds. And that’s saying something.

Can he escape the vise he has wedged his head into? Not likely, and definitely not the way he’s doing it. He has to do the one thing he is not constitutionally equipped to do – give up and give in. His fighting spirit, which he sold as the center of his aura, now works against him because America demands a level of abasement and contrition than neither he nor Oprah Winfrey can contrive.

In short, nobody is buying what he’s selling. They are, on the other hand, buying what The Onion is selling. Life as snark – the final spiked backhand for Lance Armstrong, who totally has it coming.