Bombshell: Democratic Senate candidate lied about serving in Vietnam; Update: Blumenthal responds, sort of

posted at 9:33 pm on May 17, 2010 by Allahpundit

Not just any Democratic Senate candidate, either. It’s Richard Blumenthal, current attorney general of Connecticut, whom Chris Dodd made way for by retiring earlier this year. He’s been leading all Republican challengers by upwards of 20 points in the polls and was considered a mortal lock to win the seat in November. Until now.

Follow the link for the full background of his military history. The five deferments aren’t the problem. This is the problem:

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”…

In 2003, he addressed a rally in Bridgeport, where about 100 military families gathered to express support for American troops overseas. “When we returned, we saw nothing like this,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “Let us do better by this generation of men and women.”…

The New Haven Register on July 20, 2006, described him as “a veteran of the Vietnam War,” and on April 6, 2007, said that the attorney general had “served in the Marines in Vietnam.” On May 26, 2009, The Connecticut Post, a Bridgeport newspaper that is the state’s third-largest daily, described Mr. Blumenthal as “a Vietnam veteran.” And The Shelton Weekly reported on May 23, 2008, that Mr. Blumenthal “was met with applause when he spoke about his experience as a Marine sergeant in Vietnam.”…

It does not appear that Mr. Blumenthal ever sought to correct those mistakes…

Mr. Blumenthal has made veterans’ issues a centerpiece of his public life and his Senate campaign, but even those who have worked closely with him have gotten the misimpression that he served in Vietnam. In an interview, Jean Risley, the chairwoman of the Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial Inc., recalled listening to an emotional Mr. Blumenthal offering remarks at the dedication of the memorial. She remembered him describing the indignities that he and other veterans faced when they returned from Vietnam.

After five deferments he landed a spot in a Marine Reserve unit based in Washington, “which virtually guaranteed that he would not be sent to Vietnam.” My first thought was whether he might be in violation of the Stolen Valor Act passed a few years ago, but it looks like that only applies to false claims about medals and decorations, not false claims about service. The money question, then: Will this abject disgrace have the honor to resign and bow out of the race or will the Dems stick with him? His lead’s large enough that there’s at least a chance he can weather the storm if he grovels enough. Or actually … there really isn’t a chance, is there? Any other false credential could be spun, but even in a state as blue as Connecticut, lying about military service is just too irretrievably scummy, I think. Vets will eat him for breakfast. Exit quotation from Army veteran Andy Levy, in a tweet to Blumenthal: “You are an utterly despicable coward who claims the bravery and actions of others as your own. Rot in hell.”

Update: It gets worse for Blumenthal. Meet his likely Republican challenger, Rob Simmons:

Rob’s public service career began when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1965 as a Private, and spent 19 months in Vietnam where he earned two Bronze Star Medals. Rob continued his military service in the U.S. Army Reserve as a Military Intelligence Officer, retiring as a Colonel in 2003 with over 37 years of active and reserve service.

Update: Credit where credit is due: No doubt it pained the NYT to drop a bomb on one of the few surefire Democratic winners this November, but they dropped it anyway.

Update: Lefty poll guru Nate Silver says Blumenthal must go. It’s really the only sane option. With a state as Democratic as Connecticut, there’s still plenty of time to find a replacement capable of winning the seat. It’s just going to be a closer race than it would otherwise have been, especially now that the military issue will refocus public attention on Simmons’s credentials. Ned Lamont for Senate?

Update: Marc Ambinder quotes Blumenthal’s camp as saying it’s a “hit job” and “full of inaccuracies” with promises of more to come.

Update: Blumenthal’s outrageously outraged — but he doesn’t challenge any of the salient facts. Lights out.

“The New York Times story is an outrageous distortion of Dick Blumenthal’s record of service,” Blumenthal’s campaign manager, Mindy Myers, said in a statement.

“Unlike many of his peers, Dick Blumenthal voluntarily joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1970 and served for six months in Parris Island, SC and six years in the reserves. He received no special treatment from anyone.”

Previewing a campaign event tomorrow, Myers wrote that “Dick has a long record of standing up for veterans. Tomorrow, veterans will be standing up with Dick.”

Blumenthal will hold a news conference tomorrow. He will be flanked by veterans.

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Ouch, my first thought was Sen. JFnKerry hardest hit, re his magical Christmas Cambodia trip and the good luck cap.

But it is a different story. At least we know Lurch spent time in VietNam.

Sir Napsalot on May 18, 2010 at 11:54 AM

MajoratWH 2of 3. Sen. Menendez (D-NJ, head of DSCC) on Blumenthal: “I’m sure he will continue to stay in the race. We’ll continue to support (him).”

Big shock.

Darksean on May 18, 2010 at 11:58 AM

What’s really pathetic is that the incompetent NRSC didn’t field Pataki or Giuliani against Gillibrand in NY. They screwed up the possibility of a “twofer” by nabbing both the Senate and the House now that Bleumy is imploding.

If McMahon’s team snooped this out – kudos!!! But I’d be much happier if Simmons is the ultimate beneficiary. McMahon stirkes me as another Coakely (MA) uninspiring and lacking charisma.

Other rant: It strikes me that the GOP is going to be brought kicking and screaming into victory (hopefully a twofer) in November but all due to the strong efforts of state Tea Party chapters. The GOP is reluctantly embracing Tea Partiers since they couldn’t co-opt them in the beginning. As long as the NRSC and NRCC leadership keeps kowtowing to the inside the Beltway “power brokers” and misguided gurus like Frum and Brooks, they can forget about making Obama a one-term wonder in 2012. Despite that, the Tea Partiers need to keep the pressure on full steam that make that one term a reality. I don’t support a one National Tea Party, like a 3rd party. That would only morph in to a Republican or Democratic party that would likely be corrupted from the inside out. Compassionate conservatism a la the Bush’s, and go-along, get-along bipartisanship have led us to the dire straits were in right now. End of rant.

Bob in VA on May 18, 2010 at 12:22 PM

You know, serving in the Marine reserve is a good thing. Why did he have to shoot himself by lying about Vietnam? That is so totally stupid.

Mommynator on May 18, 2010 at 12:23 PM

While this isn’t the same thing, Al Gore actually served in Viet Nam as a “journalist” in the 20th Engineer Brigade at Bien Hoa which is just down the road from Long Binh. His participation in the military and as an enlisted man was simply political but he was there although those engineers weren’t subject to very much in 1971. The Combat engineers from the 15th Engineers that I knew were in mortal danger all of the time. I served in B Co, 3/47th Inf. There is a huge difference between a Viet Nam Era Veteran and a veteran who actually got his boots muddy. Don’t care for either individual. They’re both liars.

LarryG on May 18, 2010 at 12:24 PM

And I repeat, in related news:

Wrestling impresario Linda McMahon announced Monday that former U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor is backing her for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, a rival for the GOP Senate nod, announced the head of the Republican Party in North Branford had switched his endorsement from McMahon to him.

Today, leaders of several conservative groups associated with the tea party movement are scheduled to endorse Peter Schiff, the third Republican running for the open Senate seat.

McMahon and Simmons are obviously the establishment picks. I also understand Rahmbo is very fond of Linda.

Peter Schiff for Senate. He ain’t a big government establishment hack, and he ain’t gonna lie!

Rae on May 18, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Completely OT –

Is it just me, or the new TownHall management / style (format) completely sucks?

All kinds of things pop up that nobody pays attention, tie up reloading the page to no end. AAaarrrgggghhhh!

/rant off

Sir Napsalot on May 18, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Say, is their another sleeper candidate that the NYT has in mind? Does Whoopie or Sean Penn live in Ct? If he’s someone who hates America, he’s a shoe-in in CT.Are their any stray Kennedy’s hanging around? Beuller?

Don L on May 18, 2010 at 4:55 AM

Ann Coulter also lives in Connecticut!!! But, sad to say, she could never get elected. We would be lucky to get Simmons as a Senator.

Steve Z on May 18, 2010 at 12:57 PM

Ads that play when moused-over are evil.

htom on May 18, 2010 at 1:22 PM

Hello, McFly? Anybody home?

EMD on May 18, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Rae on May 18, 2010 at 12:46 PM

my thoughts almost exactly, though i wouldn’t characterize mcmahon as an “establishment” candidate. it’s more like an offensively over-resourced vanity campaign. i’ve never seen such expensively produced direct mail, and filled with such nebulous and hollow sloganeering.

eh on May 18, 2010 at 2:16 PM

You miss the point – what did [Rush] get deferred for? It is a subject he refuses to discuss.

When the topic of his Vietnam draft status came up early in his radio career, Rush Limbaugh said that a high school
football injury was the reason for his 4F status. However, in the 1994 unauthorized biography The Rush Limbaugh Story: Talent On Loan From God written by Paul Colford, all available evidence points to Rush receiving the 4F as a result of a pilonidal cyst.

What’s that, you ask? Well … if you really wanna know, click here, but you may want to finish digesting your breakfast or lunch. Suffice to say that IMHO, unless they were under penalty of perjury, most people would choose to lie and say “a football injury” rather than discuss their pilonidal cyst.

We’ve got vets serving who are missing parts of their bodies.

I fail to see the relevance of that statement in this conversation. One must not have served in order to express an opinion about whether it is acceptable to claim the mantle of combat veteran status when one’s service placed them in no danger whatsoever.

Rush could make a compelling case about what the reality of the times were — no one wanted to go to VN and the rules for deferment were used and abused. Was this because an 18 year old is scared of the unknown or because they are a traitor? That is the point that gets missed.

Bradky on May 18, 2010 at 9:16 AM

You are groping blindly for a point to make.

The Vietnam War, in all of its aspects, is an emotional and divisive issue. The reason why Limbaugh’s status ever became the topic of discussion is because Bill Clinton defenders strove to paint Rush as a hypocrite for calling Clinton a “draft dodger.” Problem for those Dems is that unlike Rush, Clinton actually was a draft dodger.

There were no medical issues whatsoever for Clinton, which put him in a quandry; he didn’t want to serve in a military that he “loath[ed],” but he had boundless political aspirations that could have been fatally damaged by being openly resistant to the draft. As he wrote in a letter to the Arkansas ROTC commander Colonel Eugene Holmes:

The decision not to be a resister and the related subsequent decisions were the most difficult of my life. I decided to accept the draft in spite of my beliefs for one reason: to maintain my political viability within the system.

In that letter, Clinton explained to Col. Holmes why after Holmes had gotten Clinton an ROTC deferment, he flaked on his minimal military obligation in Arkansas and returned to Oxford University in England. Explaining is all that Clinton did in that letter. He did NOT apologize.

Nobody, bradky, is suggesting that all Republicans/conservatives were first in line wanting to go to Southeast Asia. In fact, Colford in his Limbaugh bio quotes Rush responding at a televised forum to a Jeff Greenfield question stating for the record that he didn’t want to go.

Ironically, eight years later, many of Clinton’s defenders would suggest that George W. Bush was a “draft dodger” and a “chickenhawk” for choosing to serve in the Texas Air National Guard rather than volunteer for SE Asia combat, and further baselessly accused him of going AWOL from the ANG. Even if those false allegations were true, Dems would be saying that dodging and leaving was OK when Slick did it, but not when W did. Now, THAT’S hypocrisy.

L.N. Smithee on May 18, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Blumenthal’s outrageously outraged — but he doesn’t challenge any of the salient facts. Lights out.

You neglected the single most important piece of evidence, AP: Blumenthal is a Democrat, which means never having to pay for your lies.

Physics Geek on May 18, 2010 at 2:50 PM

You are groping blindly for a point to makeL.N. Smithee on May 18, 2010 at 2:24 PM

And you are groping blindly to defend Rush who chooses not to defend himself. The clinton&bush issues were raised some 30+ years after Rush was deferred.
Nice dodge about Nugent.
As I said it is a lot more complicated than bs comments implying only democrats dodged the draft through whatever means were available.

Bradky on May 18, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Blumenthal will hold a news conference tomorrow. He will be flanked by veterans.

I can think of about 58,000 veterans who won’t be standing with him. Their names are engraved on a Wall, very close to the Lincoln Memorial.

tgharris on May 18, 2010 at 5:08 PM

And you are groping blindly to defend Rush who chooses not to defend himself.

“Defend himself” against … what?

The clinton&bush issues were raised some 30+ years after Rush was deferred.


Was there a time when it was relevant to the rest of the world before then?

Nice dodge about Nugent.

Who cares about Ted Nugent’s draft status? He’s neither a politician nor a political commentator — he’s a rock and roll musician!

As I said it is a lot more complicated than bs comments implying only democrats dodged the draft through whatever means were available.

Bradky on May 18, 2010 at 3:22 PM

I didn’t read every comment in this thread, but I personally never thought of serving in the Marine Reserves as “dodging the draft” in the traditional sense. I would not even have suggested Clinton was a dodger per se unless he 1) hadn’t said so openly in his letter to Col. Holmes, and 2) he had not run away from his ROTC obligation after using it to guarantee (by his own admission) that he wouldn’t have to serve in the military he “loath[ed].”

L.N. Smithee on May 18, 2010 at 5:58 PM