My bride was intrigued by the spectacle of Lance Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey, so that is what we watched tonight.
And it was, indeed, intriguing, but not for the reasons it was advertised.
Most of it was a simple repetition of things we know, or should have known already.
The doping, well, I've said this before; I had no doubt that Armstrong, like most of his great competitors, used the methods they did - EPO, CERA, HGH, testosterone, stimulants, corticosteriods - because they had to, to win. The officials that should have been ahead of the cheaters were helpless, and so it was cheat, or lose.
It was obvious to me that Armstrong fully absorbed the ethic of the peleton of his day; that to win meant to cheat, and that anyone who couldn't or wouldn't cheat was not a hero but a fool.
From tonight's interview it's fairly obvious to me that Armstrong still feels that way. And he is still the carefully unsentimental predator he has always been.
He is remorseful, yes, but only because he was caught and in so doing has harmed people he actually cares about; his children, his mother, perhaps his wife and his ex-wife.
The rest of us, well, we're not really people who matter. We're there to be extras in The Lance Armstrong Story.
Most of us think this way, of course, but it takes a pretty enormous ego to be willing to parade that attitude in full view on national television.
And for the record, Oprah really was an awful inquisitor. She wasted an immense amount of time on things that were self-evident and let slide the real hard questions that might have forced the man she was supposed to be interviewing to reveal himself. He slid around any real acceptance of the wrong he did to those who had spoken the truth about him, notably Betsy Andreu and David Walsh.
Armstrong seems clearly using this as a ploy to win sympathy and as an attempt to gain some sort of toehold back into professional sport. He openly stated that he thought his punishment was excessive and that he was driven by a need to compete.
And that was a point that Oprah, as was her habit during the entire interview, failed to seize upon.
Because if Armstrong really needed to compete he needn't return to the Chicago Marathon or any other sanctioned event. He could train and run or ride in secret and alone, where only he would know how strong and fast he had become.
But for this man what he knows about himself is not important. His life is lived by what others know about him. It is not important to be the fastest, or the strongest. It is important to him that others see him as the fastest and strongest.
That has always been the only real question to me worth asking here: "Why now?"
"We've heard you say you're sorry. We've heard you claim that you feel that you have to tell the truth now for your children's sakes. But if that were the case, why didn't you tell the truth when you, of all men, could have told the truth and changed the very sport you claim you loved? Why should we believe any of your apologies now, when you had the chance to be a truly great man and you didn't; worse, instead of merely lying and cheating you savaged those who DID speak the truth about you?"
Sadly, this interview just made clear what we've known; that this man will never do anything for itself. He is simply not made to value such things.
Lois Bujold - I always seem to come back to her when I'm talking about Armstrong, for some reason - writes that the difference between honor and reputation is that reputation is what others know about you, while honor is what you know about yourself. That "(t)here is no more hollow feeling than to stand with your honor shattered at your feet while soaring public reputation wraps you in rewards. That's soul-destroying."
Which it may well be for a man or woman who prizes honor above reputation, the inner truth over the outward show.
But, if otherwise irritating, obscure, and incomplete, this interview did show me one thing clearly; Lance Armstrong was not that man.
And he still is not.