Blumenthal: “I wore the uniform in Vietnam and many came back to all kinds of disrespect”

posted at 10:55 am on May 20, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Richard Blumenthal had an opportunity to put this story in the ground on Tuesday with nothing more than an apology and an admission of wrongdoing.  He would have taken some lumps for his serial prevarications on his military service, but as polling this week seems to show, he probably would have survived it.  Instead, Blumenthal defiantly accused people of attacking his service rather than pointing out that he claimed combat status when he didn’t serve in that capacity — which has news organizations running for the archives.  The Stamford Advocate hit gold from a parade speech in November 2008:

“I wore the uniform in Vietnam and many came back to all kinds of disrespect. Whatever we think of war, we owe the men and women of the armed forces our unconditional support.”

The occasion was the Stamford Veterans Day parade Nov. 9, 2008.

The speaker was Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, as quoted by The Advocate.

A trove of potential bulletin board material was unearthed Tuesday by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers from its archives quoting the once seemingly unflappable U.S. Senate candidate on his military record, one that he has been accused of embellishing.

And more:

During a May 18, 2009, military board tribute to veterans in Shelton, Blumenthal was quoted by the Connecticut Post as saying, “When we returned from Vietnam, I remember the taunts, the verbal and even physical abuse we encountered.”

This is a classic case of badly-handled crisis management.  It appears that a decision was made to rebut the accusations without consideration of how much material might be found to undermine their argument.  A good staff would have at least gamed that out, done some Googling and review of past speeches, and determined that the risk of further exposure would prolong the story.

That forced Blumenthal into a strange defense, what I’d refer to as the “I’ve been faithful dozens of times” position.  The campaign and the candidate tried a sleight-of-hand in focusing on the times when Blumenthal characterized his service accurately, as if one honest instance counterbalances one dishonest instance.  It doesn’t.  The societal expectation on representations of combat service is one of complete honesty, just as expectations of one spouse for another is complete fidelity.  Being honest dozens of times doesn’t get Blumenthal off the hook for exaggerations and flat-out lies at other times.

Blumenthal’s stumbles certainly speak to his honesty as a politician, but also to his competence.  If he can’t handle a crisis any better than this, we certainly don’t want Blumenthal in the Senate, and Connecticut voters ought to consider whether he belongs in the AG’s office, too.

Update (AP): Remember those newspaper stories that wrongly claimed Blumenthal was a Vietnam vet, which he says he never saw?

Well, it turns out that he’s known for following his press coverage very closely.

The candidate explains he can’t track all news reports about him. Yet this newspaper knows from experience that Mr. Blumenthal is quick to correct unflattering statements published about him or to refute opinions with which he disagrees. One reporter got a call from the attorney general for inserting a middle initial in his name. He has none.

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I am stunned! I can’t believe what I am hearing out of Senor Calderon!

Dire Straits on May 20, 2010 at 12:19 PM

People hardly ever have anything nice to say about Neville Chamberlain, but at least he never had Adolf Hitler damning England from Buckingham Palace.

MB4 on May 20, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Sure I lied, but think of all the other times where I had the opportunity to lie, but forgot to.

Emperor Norton on May 20, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Don’t you think that Blumenthal honestly was monitoring his political odometer during his rise in the political arena? It is clear that he understood all too well the mileage he would get out of, or receive from claiming to have served IN Vietnam as a resume enhancer, but like anyone who lives a lie, why do they act surprised now after the truth becomes known? He has arrived at his final destination. Disgrace.

Americannodash on May 20, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Hey, give him a break. What he actually said was, “I wore a uniform [that was made] in Vietnam….”

Daggett on May 20, 2010 at 12:48 PM

“I wore the uniform in Vietnam and many came back to all kinds of disrespect. Whatever we think of war, we owe the men and women of the armed forces our unconditional support.”
The occasion was the Stamford Veterans Day parade Nov. 9, 2008.
The speaker was Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, as quoted by The Advocate.

How John Fn Kerry-esque! Right after Obama’s election, he counts himself among the veterans, but qualifies it with “whatever we think of war” to appease the peacenik fringe in CT that elected pacifist Ned Lamont in the 2006 Dem primary over three-term Joe Lieberman. He could have easily finessed this by saying, “Even though I did not serve in Vietnam, we owe the men and women of our armed forces our respect”, and kept everyone happy. But it wasn’t about the veterans, it was about HIM.

I wonder if Chris Dodd will say anything…I mean he was so forthcoming about his Country Wide loan.

Dire Straits on May 20, 2010 at 11:26 AM

Dodd already defended Blumenthal as an “honorable man”. Didn’t Marc Antony say something similar about Brutus?

We haven’t heard much about this from CT’s other Senator, Joe Lieberman, who ran as an Independent after losing the 2006 Dem primary, solely because of his support for the “surge” in Iraq. For the same reason, he actively campaigned for John McCain in 2008. His silence speaks volumes. If he criticizes Blumenthal on “principle”, he might end up with a Republican sitting next to him in the Senate. If he defends Blumenthal for the party, people will wonder whether he really “supports the troops”.

Whaddya say, Joe? Do you support the troops or the party?

Steve Z on May 20, 2010 at 12:50 PM

The Connecticut Democrat voters will still vote for him. After all, they have the same values and ethics…

Fuzzlenutter on May 20, 2010 at 12:05 PM

I wonder if maybe you’re right. Certainly I don’t have any respect for Democrat voters, such that they would reject a candidate who lies about military service.

So let’s break it down: his more liberal voters hate the military and will support him because he’s a liberal who lies about the military. His partisan Democrat supporters will support him because he’s the Democrat, and rationalize the military lies the way Clinton’s fans ignored him doing interns in the Oral Office.

That leaves Independents to be offended and switch over to the Republican nominee, unless it’s some freak from the WWE.

Jaibones on May 20, 2010 at 12:53 PM


NTWR on May 20, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Sure I lied, but think of all the other times where I had the opportunity to lie, but forgot to.

We have a winner.

seven on May 20, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Breaking story….

“Blumenthal Says Experience At Antietam Forged His Work-Ethic”

Potfry on May 20, 2010 at 1:23 PM

As always, the bigger story here is the media. If it were a Republican…

hawkdriver on May 20, 2010 at 1:41 PM

John Kerry served in Vietnam.

Dire Straits on May 20, 2010 at 11:19 AM

That’s John F’ing Kerry to you, sir!

disa on May 20, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Speaking of doubling down with a chicken, this guy is just cruising for a visit from the Humane Society …

ya2daup on May 20, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Potfry on May 20, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Breaking story….

“Blumenthal Says Experience At Fort William Henry Forged His Deep Disdain for Cease-Fires and Safe Conduct”

ya2daup on May 20, 2010 at 2:18 PM

Perhaps Mr. Blumenthal could be awarded the “Meritorious Medal of Restraint” for NOT fighting in Vietnam, but suggesting that he did.

This would put him ahead of Sen. John Kerry, who DID fight in Vietnam, but was so ashamed of his service that he fragged himself to get the H-E-Double-L out of there.

Or he could apply for the “Hillary Clinton Creative Fiction Award” for dodging bullets that were never fired at him.

Or he could just rent a teleprompter, throw his Grandmother under the bus, and run for President!

For God sakes!

Just check “D” and wait for the “entitlements” to roll in.

Stepan on May 20, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Keep track of the names of those urging him to stay . Dodd , Neil Cavuto ,and all democRATS .

borntoraisehogs on May 20, 2010 at 2:54 PM

Remember those newspaper stories that wrongly claimed Blumenthal was a Vietnam vet, which he says he never saw?

That’s like soo believable cuz who ever heard of a politician following news stories about themselves?

DSchoen on May 20, 2010 at 3:34 PM

A reporter should ask him for proof regarding a very basic question . . . whether he had received his draft “Greeting” letter prior to joining the Marine Reserve unit.

The reason he should be asked that question is that he likely knew on December 1, 1969, or soon thereafter, that he had drawn lottery number “152” and that meant that he was immediately subject to being drafted.

The first drawing under the lottery system was held on December 1, 1969. Blumenthal was born on February 13, 1946.

Here is the description of the lottery according to the the Selective Service System.

“The lottery drawing held December 1, 1969, determined the order in which men, born from 1944 through 1950, were called to report for induction into the military.”

So, he knew where he stood after that drawing. Every young man at the time did!

In 1970, all those with numbers “195” or LOWER were therefore subject to the immediate draft. Blumenthal knew his luck (and his deferments) had run aground.

Therefore, one could easily presume that his motivation for joining the “T-Street” unit (passing out Toys for Tots), was to duck the impending (or already received) draft notice, by which he could have actually gone to Viet-Nam!

I posted more on Legal Insurrection here.

Trochilus on May 20, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Why I thought Mr. B was from MA and not CT in other posts is unbelievably silly of me. Like Mrs. Landers used to say, give me 20 lashes with a wet noodle. The guy’s still a lying creep no matter where he’s from. He’ll fit in nicely with the other lying creeps already in DC.

Kissmygrits on May 20, 2010 at 4:00 PM

Blumenthal’s lie is a ‘big f***ing deal’. Why isn’t the media pouring over his records at AG? What else has he lied about?? The voters of CT should demand he step down from AG.

TN Mom on May 20, 2010 at 4:13 PM

You would think Connecticut would be quick to spot a fraud buttttttttttt…………;contentBody

Then there are the political “veterans” whose war records are even more dubious than their campaign promises.
In 1984, Robert Sorensen was a Connecticut state representative running for reelection.
When challenged on his opposition to opening legislative sessions with the Pledge of Allegiance,

Sorensen huffily replied: “My patriotism should not be questioned by anyone because . . . when my country called me into service, I fought in Vietnam.”

Sound familiar?

Except that he didn’t, as his opponent quickly discovered. Even then, Sorensen brazened it out, employing an excuse that, for sheer audacity, can’t be beat.

For the first time ever, the American public had before them a war in their living rooms,” he explained. “Every single person in this United States fought in that war in Vietnam. We all felt the anguish that those people felt. So in a sense I was there.”

Veterans who actually were in Vietnam being shot at with real bullets, might be forgiven for thinking that, in a sense, Sorensen was a horse’s ass. (Sorenson withdrew from the race.)

DSchoen on May 20, 2010 at 4:37 PM

If Blumenthal really wanted to show contrition, he would write a check to the VFW to cover ALL costs associated with reinstalling the Veterans’ Memorial Cross in the Mojave Desert, including matching the reward and the court costs for apprehending and prosecuting whoever removed it.

A replacement cross has already been constructed, but the Parks authorities refuse to put it up, and the DOJ won’t force them to do their job…pending litigation, you know, although the SCOTUS has already ruled in favor of the VFW and the veterans. Of course, if this were a MUSLIM memorial, it would already have been restored and Obama would probably be on a prayer rug in front of it for the rededication ceremony.

opaobie on May 20, 2010 at 5:28 PM

And Dick Cheney’s hunting accident was a big deal?

madmonkphotog on May 20, 2010 at 6:07 PM

Go easy! “The uniform” Blumenthal refers to is a flight-attendant’s uniform … and anyhow, that was a private celebration.

virgo on May 21, 2010 at 12:22 AM

Forecasting the response from Blumenthal: Word Processor Errors.

To wit:

“I wore the uniform in the Vietnam era and many came back to all kinds of disrespect.

“When the ‘Royal’ we returned from Vietnam, I remember the taunts, the verbal and even physical abuse we encountered.”

juanito on May 21, 2010 at 3:34 PM

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