NYT hits Blumenthal again on service explanation

posted at 2:55 pm on June 17, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The New York Times hasn’t surrendered yet on its pursuit of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and his serial fabulism regarding his military service.  The Democratic nominee for the US Senate gave an interview with the Connecticut Mirror in which Blumenthal claimed that he assumed the Marines could ship him to Vietnam even if he did enlist in the Reserves.  NYT reporter Raymond Hernandez says that sounds fishy as well:

At one point in the interview, Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat, said he joined the Marine Corps Reserve in April 1970 knowing that reservists could be activated for service in Vietnam. “I did not want to avoid service,” he said. “I did realize reservists could be called up, and that it was something that I wanted to do.”

But military experts said there was no expectation that reserve units would be activated at the time Mr. Blumenthal enlisted, particularly given how drastically public opinion had turned against the war.

In fact, President Richard M. Nixon had begun in 1969 to reduce the American troop presence in Vietnam and transfer more responsibility for fighting to the South Vietnamese, said James E. Westheider, a history professor at the Clermont College campus of the University of Cincinnati who has written about Vietnam.

“By the time he was in the service, if he was in the Marine Reserves, he was not going to Vietnam,” Mr. Westheider said.

Hernandez also reports that Blumenthal misrepresented his position in the draft lottery, which also goes to motivation:

In the interview, he discussed the number he received in the draft lottery in 1969, just a few months before he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, according to the article.

His number in the December 1969 draft lottery, according to the Selective Service, was 152. People with numbers as high as 195 in that lottery were eligible to be drafted.

Blumenthal offered his draft-number explanation as a way to show that he didn’t enlist in the Reserves to avoid combat.  Since the number was supposedly too high for any real chance of being drafted, Blumenthal claimed, his enlistment in the Marines was entirely motivated by a desire to serve his country.  However, another expert consulted by the Times disputes that contention and Blumenthal’s lack of recollection of his exact number:

David Curry, a professor at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, who is an expert on the Vietnam draft, said Mr. Blumenthal’s lottery number would have been cause for worry for someone who did not want to be drafted.

“I’d say he had a medium-level lottery number,” Mr. Curry said. “It’s not really a safe number. But once he joined the Reserves, he would not have been eligible for being drafted.”

Mr. Curry, who served in Vietnam, also questioned how anyone could forget his draft number. “I find it hard to believe that anyone would forget their lottery number,” he said. “I am betting if I call my colleagues who were in that same lottery,” he said, “every one of them would know their draft number.”

Blumenthal had five deferments prior to this, so quite obviously he wanted to avoid the draft.  However, so did a lot of young men at the time, including Dick Cheney, who had an equal number of deferments.  There is nothing wrong with seeking legal avenues of avoiding the draft, especially when it results in honorable service to the country, as it did with Blumenthal and with George W. Bush, whose Reserve status became controversial in 2004.

However, the difference between Blumenthal and the other two men is that Blumenthal appears to consistently misrepresent his motivations and his actions.  This is less clear in this instance than in the original reporting done by the Times on this story, though, and gets into the murky area of motivations rather than concrete actions.  If the actual instances of Blumenthal lying about being in Vietnam rather than serving as a stateside reservist during Vietnam didn’t move the needle in polling, a debate over motivation seems less than promising.  It may provoke more stumbles from Blumenthal when pressed, at category for which the Mirror interview certainly seems to qualify.


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Does it matter? I mean, he`s going to win anyway.

ThePrez on June 17, 2010 at 2:57 PM

He’s a liar. We all know that. Let it go now.

Daggett on June 17, 2010 at 2:58 PM

Leave the Reserves alone.

Joining the reserves was, is and shall always be an honorbale thing to do.

mankai on June 17, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Unfortunately the majority of voters in Connecticut don’t seem to gave a rat’s you-know-what. I guess they support the Obama agenda(minus the assaulting students part).

Doughboy on June 17, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Where is Dan Rather and his 1970 IBM Selectric when you need him most…

PatriotRider on June 17, 2010 at 3:09 PM

CT citizens will yawn, full speed ahead off the financial cliff!

WashJeff on June 17, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Does it matter? I mean, he`s going to win anyway.

ThePrez on June 17, 2010

Exactly. That’s why the NYT has picked him as the dem to be “tough on” this cycle.

BuzzCrutcher on June 17, 2010 at 3:09 PM

What am I missing here? Why is the New York Times going after this guy for lying about his military record? Didn’t the New York Times endorse John Kerry? I thought they liked democrats who lie about their military service. Now they don’t? Did this guy prick Obama’s thin skin somewhere along the way and we just haven’t heard about it? There is no way in hell anyone at the New York Times gives a damn about a democrat politician lying about his military record. There’s got to be more to this.

Rational Thought on June 17, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Does it matter? I mean, he`s going to win anyway.

ThePrez on June 17, 2010

Exactly. That’s why the NYT has picked him as the dem to be “tough on” this cycle.

BuzzCrutcher on June 17, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Really. And what’s the news here? Career politicians lie. That’s what they do. Aside from extortion, making and taking bribes, and other criminal activities, it’s what they’re best at doing.

Daggett on June 17, 2010 at 3:10 PM

100% voluntary service is so much better than a draft. I can’t imagine what it would be like to get ordered to the front lines when you have no interest in serving. That is what makes this man’s lies so disgusting.

I volunteered for service twice. Once when I was 17 in order to get a chance to “see the world” (1994-Navy) and once again when I was older and after 9/11(2003/Army) because all that we heard stateside about the conditions in Iraq were horrible. I figured if I went over, I could take the place of some person who had already done a tour and was slated to go again.

I would assume that anyone who talks about “coming home from Iraq” had actually been in-theater and at least tasted the same dust as everyone else over there. I always make sure to point out that I only drove convoys around instead of kicking in doors and facing the actual enemy.

This scumbag simply basked in reflected glory for YEARS until someone called him out.

Mord on June 17, 2010 at 3:15 PM

My number was 228 in the second round of the Draft Lottery. I’ll never forget that number. Ever. Had I drawn a low number, I was already set to join the National Guard.

And why did I do that? So I wouldn’t have to go to Viet Nam. I can say it. Why can’t Blumenthal?

But I’m not running for the U.S. Senate.

SlaveDog on June 17, 2010 at 3:19 PM

In the first year of the draft lottery, the number’s effect varied by local draft board. I knew a pair of hard-partying twins who got 366 in the first lottery and immediately dropped out of my college. They were from western Massachusetts which was very anti-war. They got drafted when their local board had to go all of the way through the numbers. Because of cases like this, Selective Service went to national number calls for later years.

levi from queens on June 17, 2010 at 3:20 PM

This guy is a liar! He has no business being in the Senate. He should pursue other lines of work. End of discussion.

rjoco1 on June 17, 2010 at 3:27 PM

This guy is a liar! He has no business being in the Senate. He should pursue other lines of work. End of discussion.

rjoco1 on June 17, 2010 at 3:27 PM

But it’s one the job requirements.

mankai on June 17, 2010 at 3:31 PM

My gut tells me Blumenthal is not a shoo-in. Yeah he’s up about 20 points now and was over 30 a few months back, but the man is a walking cadaver, he can’t think on his feet. Bloomin Idiot never had to run a tough campaign because he only had token opposition, Glen beck ripped him a new one on his show, and McMahan, although not the best choice, has the cash and she fights using street rules. Hopefully,she will sink her teeth into Blumenthal’s jugular.

veni vidi vici on June 17, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Leave the Reserves alone.

Joining the reserves was, is and shall always be an honorbale thing to do.

mankai on June 17, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Yes, BUT

I enlisted in the Marines around that time (Oct.’69) and the reserves were a haven for those who ran out of options and wanted to stay out of Vietnam. At the time, the Marine Reserves, unlike today, stayed stateside. At the time I enlisted in the regular Corps, there was a 6 month waiting list for the Marine Reserves. There were also waiting lists for the regular Air Force and Navy.

Blumenthal got deferments until he got his college education (and subsequent work deferments) He could have gone straight to OCS and been a 2nd Lieutenant instead of a private but he didn’t. Being a reservist is honorable, but being a self-aggrandizing politician is not.

cartooner on June 17, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Just another lying Democrat. First you have to be smart enough to know what lying is, a sadly most Democrat voters don’t have the smarts to do that.

tarpon on June 17, 2010 at 3:37 PM

The fine people of Connecticut have elected a lying, incompetent coward to represent them for decades. To vote otherewise would not be who they are. The lie about military service is a prerequisite in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa. It titillates liberals.

volsense on June 17, 2010 at 3:40 PM

In the interview, he discussed the number he received in the draft lottery in 1969, just a few months before he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, according to the article.

and

Blumenthal had five deferments prior to this, so quite obviously he wanted to avoid the draft.

I’m wondering, are those five deferments just the interveneing five semesters of college (or high school) between his 18th and through his 20th birthday before the draft?

Dusty on June 17, 2010 at 3:48 PM

I’m lost even more. His Wiki says he was born in Feb, 1946. Why did he get a draft number in 1969, at age of 23+/-? I guess Wiki is wrong?

Dusty on June 17, 2010 at 3:53 PM

cartooner on June 17, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Things must have changed between Oct 69 and Jun 70. I received a low lottery number and I projected it would be reached by Sept 70. I signed up for Regular Air Force in Jun 70 and went to basic training in Sept 70. Not much of a waiting time.

chemman on June 17, 2010 at 3:53 PM

NYT showing they are fair and balanced.

Kissmygrits on June 17, 2010 at 3:56 PM

Maybe he has a multi-personality disorder,
and,he also is a veteran of his,

Legend in his own mind!!(sarc).

canopfor on June 17, 2010 at 4:04 PM

Really. And what’s the news here? Career politicians lie. That’s what they do. Aside from extortion, making and taking bribes, and other criminal activities, it’s what they’re best at doing.

Daggett on June 17, 2010 at 3:10 PM

Wrong…according to the MSM, Republicans lie…Democrats misspeak.

Asher on June 17, 2010 at 4:11 PM

My gut tells me Blumenthal is not a shoo-in. Yeah he’s up about 20 points now and was over 30 a few months back, but the man is a walking cadaver, he can’t think on his feet. Bloomin Idiot never had to run a tough campaign because he only had token opposition, Glen beck ripped him a new one on his show, and McMahan, although not the best choice, has the cash and she fights using street rules. Hopefully,she will sink her teeth into Blumenthal’s jugular.

veni vidi vici on June 17, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Linda McMahon is definitely not the best choice to attack Blumenthal on this issue. As a woman, she wasn’t subject to the draft (and was probably too young anyway during Vietnam), so she has a convenient excuse, but no record of service. A better choice would have been Rob Simmons, a Marine veteran of Vietnam, and a three-term Congressman, who could legitimately criticize both Blumenthal’s Vietnam avoidance and speak from his own legislative record.

But McMahon is rich, and sank lots of her own money into her primary campaign, attacking Simmons as a RINO, without really stating her own positions on issues. She made her money on pay-per-view wrestling, essentially faked staged violence, not exactly seen as an honorable profession in CT.

After losing the nominating convention with a respectable score (over 40%), Simmons could have demanded a primary election, but bowed out, probably afraid of McMahon’s money.

If McMahon is still down 20 points AFTER this cat is out of the bag, she will be hard-pressed to recover. There are just too many peaceniks in CT who would probably praise Blumenthal for ducking military service. It’s sad but true–many of them are my neighbors.

Steve Z on June 17, 2010 at 4:15 PM

If you read the local press here in CT, it’s obvious that the electorate is making excuses to vote for Blumental, and McMahon is going nowhere. Would she be a competent senator? I have no idea. People just don’t like her, don’t like the way she’s throwing around her money (we’ve been getting a couple of mailers a week for months now) and don’t like the way she made her money.

Coulter had the right idea in trying to revive Rob Simmons’ candidacy. He’s suspended his campaign for lack of funds, but remains on the ballot. I’d like to say anything can happen, but Blumenthal is a shoe-in.

Meredith on June 17, 2010 at 4:25 PM

There is nothing wrong with seeking legal avenues of avoiding the draft

As long as you have enough money…As for those of us who couldn’t afford to buy our way out…that’s what happens when you’re one of the small people.

repvoter on June 17, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Steve Z on June 17, 2010 at 4:15 PM

McMahon should let the press take care of the ‘Nam issue, since she has no leg to stand on in that fight. Unfortunately, military service in this sea of blue doesn’t go very far go far as an issue with the liberal electorate. Which is ironic since many military contractors located in the state. Although Simmons was the better candidate we are stuck with McMahan. One important vote she would cast the same as Simmons or Schiff is that would be to caucus with the republicans, which goes a long way in a closely divided senate.

veni vidi vici on June 17, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Why is the Times pursuing this, I wonder? Did Blumenthal kill one of the editors’ dogs?

meep on June 17, 2010 at 5:39 PM

Why is the Times pursuing this, because they know he is going to win this year and they want to “beat this horse to death.”

J_Crater on June 17, 2010 at 6:17 PM

Maybe he has a multi-personality disorder

Serial fabulist, slippery fast-talker, fatuous self-aggrandizer, Democrat, umm…

Oh crap, that’s still only one personality type ain’t it?

drunyan8315 on June 17, 2010 at 9:05 PM

Maybe he has a multi-personality disorder

Serial fabulist, slippery fast-talker, fatuous self-aggrandizer, Democrat, umm…

Oh crap, that’s still only one personality type ain’t it?

drunyan8315 on June 17, 2010 at 9:06 PM

Northeastern Dems do have their standards when it comes to fidelity to truth and the nation. And the only way they wouldn’t vote for this guy to be their US Senator is if it became known that, as a reservist, he met secretly with the North Vietnamese in Paris, France, while his country was conducting peace negotiations to bring an end to the war. Surely, we know Dems have at least that much honor? Isn’t that correct Sen. John Kerry?

devolvingtowardsidiocracy on June 17, 2010 at 9:15 PM