Connecticut Senatorial candidate and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is now the focus of a potentially disastrous scandal after journalists alleged that he has lied about his service in Vietnam. It appears that Blumenthal never served in Vietnam despite repeated references to such service and his difficulties in “coming home” from the war.
I have previously written about “stolen valor” cases (here), though such cases involve the wearing of unearned medals.
Blumenthal, 64, is accused of claiming the mantle of being a veteran when he secured a series of deferments to serve at places like Harvard. In 2003, he told an audience in Bridgeport that “[w]hen we returned, we saw nothing like this. Let us do better by this generation of men and women.” In another rally in 2008, he allegedly expressed his pain upon returning to an unthankful country: “I served during the Vietnam era. I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse.”
Whatever taunts and insults he may have experienced appear to have occurred at Harvard. He asked for and received at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 — allowing him to study at Harvard, complete a fellowship in England, work for the Washington Post, and serve in the Nixon White House. In 1970, he secured a position with the Marine Reserve that performed such duties as repairing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive. Of course, serving in the Nixon administration could have resulted in some posttraumatic stress with former staffers routinely waking up while screaming “No Martha [Mitchell], not the white vinyl boots!” And, by the way, as someone with four kids under 12, no actual combat experience can prepare you for Toys-for-Tots. It is ugly. Here is an account from one Toys-For-Tots veteran:
This is of course terrible news for the Democrats. Blumenthal is a very respected lawyer with an exemplary record as a public official. He could also argue that, since he was with a reserve unit, he did serve during the Vietnam War. That dog won’t hunt, however, with many citizens.
UPDATE: In one of the instances, the associated press has reported that the video given to the New York Times contained an earlier reference by Blumenthal to serving “during” the Vietnam War. Groups have objected that the original article should have included the quote, here.
For the story, click here.