May 20, 2010

WHY WOULD ANYONE NEED TO LIE ABOUT HAVING BEEN IN VIETNAM? That’s the question that the Washington Post’s Henry Allen asks of Richard Blumenthal (D-CT):

He didn’t have to claim he’d been in Vietnam. He already had the résumé to be a shoo-in candidate. Rich kid, Harvard (editor of the Crimson), reporter at The Washington Post, Yale Law School (editor of the law journal), almost two decades as attorney general, the perfect knowledge-class candidate of the kind favored by modern Democrats. (In looks, however, he does bear an unsettling resemblance to disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer.)

Bill Clinton not only dodged the draft but lied to do it, and still we elected him president over a World War II combat flier — though Clinton never lied about having been in Vietnam. George W. Bush spent his war flying fighters over Texas and still defeated Al Gore, who had served in Vietnam. Then Bush beat John Kerry, a wounded and be-medaled Vietnam veteran. Dick Cheney’s military record — he got five academic deferments — didn’t seem to hurt his political career, and he was bold enough to say to a Washington Post reporter: “I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.”

Of course none of them lied about having been in Vietnam — a catastrophically stupid thing to do, a fact that is easily checked. What would propel Blumenthal to do such a thing?

Naturally, Kerry’s Winter Soldier experiences after the war, or that Bush #43 apparently did volunteer to go to Vietnam at one point in his reserve career aren’t mentioned. Meawhile, at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey catches this:

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.

On the other hand, as Henry writes, Blumenthal “already had the résumé to be a shoo-in candidate” — and he could still squeak through, even with his known flaws. Just ask Tom Harkin.

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