Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Vietnam STILL An Issue In American Politics

It's like "In The Lake of the Woods" without the massacreRough sledding in Connecticut for Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the presumptive heir to the Senate seat Chris Dodd is being forced to vacate at the end of his term. Last night the Times dropped a major bomb on the Democratic AG, accusing him of misstating his military service during the war in Vietnam. (After several deferments Blumenthal joined the Marine reserves, ensuring that he would not be sent overseas.) Throughout his subsequent career as an elected official, Blumenthal has often referred to his military background, in some cases using language that indicated he had been in the war, in other cases making it deliberately clear that he remained stateside. When media reports of his service made it sound as if he had been to Vietnam, no efforts were made to correct the misinformation.

The political calculus on this one is hard to determine: Blumenthal will hold a press conference today surrounded by supportive veterans in which he will deny any attempt to deceive. Meanwhile, Republican Senatorial candidate Linda McMahon (former CEO and co-founder with her husband Vince of World Wrestling Entertainment) reposted a story on her website giving her credit for feeding the information to the Times, which is shockingly bad form: If you're funding the opposition research and find something good, you discreetly pass it along and let the newspaper take credit. (Perhaps McMahon's people regret the faux pas; the page has since disappeared, although you can read details here.) Democrats will fume about this aspect of the story, but will it be enough to save Blumenthal?

The Atlantic's Joshua Green sounds dubious, noting that Blumenthal's previous reputation for probity will actually work against him in this case:

Everything about Blumenthal seemed to set him apart from the ordinary sleaze and compromise of big-time politics, especially in recent years as Joe Lieberman succumbed to narcissism and Chris Dodd's sweetheart Countrywide mortgage tarnished him beyond redemption (or at least beyond reelection). For as long as I can remember, Blumenthal has been the crusading consumer advocate, humble, modest, unprepossessing, with that guileless Brylcreem haircut that somehow made him seem even more honorable–a throwback to an earlier era. That Blumenthal clearly could have won statewide office if only he hadn't been blocked by Dodd and Lieberman only added to this saintly impression. Or anyway, it appeared that he could have won office.

Who knows? It's impossible to say whether this is an issue of deliberate obfuscation or a case of linguistic elasticity with which Blumenthal finally became so comfortable that it no longer even registered as a concern. A decade ago a Slate profile presented him as a sure candidate for higher office whose path was blocked by incumbents; in the decade since his continuing refusal to grab the brass ring even when the path seemed clear was one of the bigger puzzlements of Connecticut politics; perhaps, in the back of his mind, this was always a concern. Maybe, with Dodd being pushed out and the opportunity seeming to good to pass up, he somehow convinced himself that it wouldn't make a difference. Now we'll see if it does.

16 Comments / Post A Comment

HiredGoons (#603)

Pfft, Reagan did this with WWII.

ish (#3,041)

At least Reagan was in a movie about WWII.

You would think the Democrats could come up with better candidates.

iplaudius (#1,066)

The quotation cracks me up, because Blumenthal “ succumbed” long, long ago. He does have a reputation for probity-and for narcissism. He has always taken every opportunity to go before television cameras, often in situations too trivial or, alternatively, overblown for someone of his position and responsibilities.

What kind of guy is Blumenthal? He’s done a lot for the poor, he stands up to big business, and he’ll fight the good fight.

He’s also the kind of guy who lives in Greenwich. Who has degrees from Harvard and Yale. Who has a car-and-driver, which the taxpayers pay for–because he has to get to Hartford every day, and his time is important!

True story: A few years ago, when his driver was out with a serious illness, Blumenthal expected the junior attorneys to pick him up at his home in Greenwhich every day and drive him to Hartford. None of these junior attorneys lived anywhere near Greenwich-they were all in or near Hartford. This went on for more than a month! For a man whose job is justice, it was odd he didn’t judge it an unfair request, a waste of the attorneys’ time, and an inappropriate use of taxpater-paid human resources meant for other purposes. Why didn’t he? Narcissism.

Isn't the real scandal here his horrible dye job?

David R. (#391)

So, the problems w/ Blumenthal:

- he's well-off
- he's well-educated
- he likes to play to the camera
- he doesn't like to drive himself around

He should be in politics!

David R. (#391)

(meant to be a reply to iplaudius)

Honestly, if his biggest shortcomings are his narcissism & semi-fibbing about his military service, then he's woefully underqualified for high public office. Wake me up when Ned Lamont leaks tape of RB giving the ladies of the Fox 61 newsteam an "exclusive."

deepomega (#1,720)

"Semi-fibbing"? He used his alleged experience in Vietnam as a crutch for a political point about Afghanistan and Iraq. He wasn't lying about his hair color, he was lying to lend gravitas to a political point.

David R. (#391)

he was lying to lend gravitas to a political point

Yeah, he should've just gone w/ the half-truth, or the carefully-worded obfuscation, or some slanted & clearly biased intepretation of facts & figures, instead of just lying outright.

Or what KarenUhOh says below; "well-turned turd" should win something. Maybe if he was bigger (or more graceful publically), he'd be able to muddle through this, but Dick screwed this pooch well & proper.

iplaudius (#1,066)

I agree: the narcissism is indeed a small shortcoming, all things considered. I was just amused by the quote.

Blumenthal should be judged by what he’s accomplished as attorney general. In that regard, I’d vote for him in a heartbeat.

samuel gonzalez (#4,987)

Richard Blumenthal is just another lying Democrat that tries to be all things to all people. They really don't offer solutions to problems. What's more important to them is pitting one group of Americans against the other to seize more power and control for government.

When will people learn?
The Last Tradition

KarenUhOh (#19)

Good lord. Learn, indeed, good citizen, before you get too comfortable under that white hat.

KarenUhOh (#19)

You know, I want to look the other way on this, but there's no equivocation in his voice on that tape, and to say you 'misspoke' about such a subject in this political culture is dick-stepping of the highest rank.

Which way do you want to play this? He's either stupid or hubristic or thoughtless or all, or he's another selfish opportunistic power-besotted wannabe–who thinks this stuff can't be tracked and thrown in his face.

Do I loathe those doing the throwing? Fucking A right. But this well-turned turd should've been bright enough not to give them that chance.

kneetoe (#1,881)

Agree. This is obviously a practiced and oft-repeated lie that he uses for political gain. And this will have a big impact on this race, because of the type of lie it is and because no doubt new examples will come out that keep this story alive.

Louis Fyne (#2,066)

NYT: 5? Tri-state politicians: 0

LondonLee (#922)

Vietnam STILL An Issue In American Politics If You're A Democrat

Fixed it for you.

I still think the guy is a dick though. "Misspoke" my arse.

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