Richard Blumenthal’s Vietnam

Tall, thin, each remaining hair strand placed for maximum effect, he seems the consummate nerd–a guy too straight to be corrupted by politics.

My Facebook friends are incensed. After I posted a link they commented in droves. I am incensed too after tonight’s New York Times revelation about senatorial candidate Richard Blumenthal:

[W]hat is striking about Mr. Blumenthal’s record is the contrast between the many steps he took that allowed him to avoid Vietnam, and the misleading way he often speaks about that period of his life now, especially when he is speaking at veterans’ ceremonies or other patriotic events.

Sometimes his remarks have been plainly untrue, as in his speech to the group in Norwalk. At other times, he has used more ambiguous language, but the impression left on audiences can be similar.

I know Dick Blumenthal a little because he shows up at so many public events I’m at… certainly more than any other politician in Connecticut. No one else even comes close. If there’s such a thing as a ‘retail politician’ it is Richard Blumenthal.

Tall, thin, each remaining hair strand placed for maximum effect, he seems the consummate nerd–a guy too straight to be corrupted by politics. He avoided running for higher office until Chris Dodd announced he’d vacate his seat.

Let’s cut to the quick. We all exaggerate from time-to-time. Blumenthal is accused of lying. There’s no other way to interpret what he said versus what the Times uncovered.

It’s not just the lying. It’s that he lied about service in Vietnam.

Unless you were around you may not realize the level of anger Vietnam produced. Hawks and doves regularly fought it out. Usually it was verbal. Sometimes it was worse.

Returning Viet Vets were harangued and vilified. It must have been difficult for a soldier returning from ‘Nam to admit where he’d been.

When the hate and mistrust diminished and things cooled down it became obvious the soldiers in Vietnam, though the most visible symbol of the war, were not the cause or guilty party. They shouldn’t have been the target of scorn. Many of the soldiers were draftees and in Southeast Asia against their will.

Back then I tried very hard to keep my upset focused on the government. Was I successful in doing that 100% of the time? Hopefully, but I can’t say for sure.

By claiming to be a Vietnam Vet Blumenthal traded on the guilt many of us still feel about that era.

Tonight I feel hurt and cheated. I am disappointed in a man I thought I could trust.

12 thoughts on “Richard Blumenthal’s Vietnam”

  1. For people who really served, like my husband, and had harrowing experiences, like my husband, and have nightmares to this very day, like my husband, this is extremely insulting!

  2. We live in a very strange world. We had a candidate, John Kerry, who was in the line of fire in Vietnam, yet was called elitist and mocked by a campaign (George W. Bush) who was in the Air National Guard and can’t prove he finished his service. He and Dick Cheney, (who obviously never served) lead us to a war on bad intelligence and maybe worse.

    People misspeak every day. We need to let it go, and start showing wrestling videos and talking about the WWE and all the Chinese promo products they have sold over the years.

  3. ‘sigh’ We really need to let Vietnam, all our experiences there, and the rest of that period GO. It’s over, it’s done with, and we need to move on. If you participated in and survived that madness, wonderful. If, like me, you lost many good friends there, respect, honor, and remember them, but don’t get caught up in a personal pity party.

    We were mostly KIDS. We went there because we had to, we did what we were ordered to do, and managed to somehow survive the nasty experience. I personally spent over 8 years in the Navy during that period, including two tours off the coast of Vietnam. There are some things that happened that I prefer not to talk about, and there are others that I still laugh about to this day. Life is like that.

    I learned a lot, and one of those essential things was to let go of the experiences that hurt, and remember that they can NEVER send me back there again. That is the crux of it, in my opinion. We don’t have to do it again, unless we do it to ourselves. I’m not claiming it’s easy to let go, but eventually, you have to let go just to retain a few shreds of sanity in a complicated world. Remember the good things, your buddies, your shipmates, and the pretty places. Anything else leads to madness and pain.

    Yep, we survivied it. THht is not necessarily the easiest thing to do, but we had the strength and courage to go through the experience…lean on that strength and courage to continue, to grow, and to learn that the world is NOT all ugliness, death, and destruction.

    Consider your children and grandchildren–they all need you to be there for them, to be interested in their needs and experiences, and they will look up to you, no matter what you were personally involved in. You choose your path, so please pick one that leads to personal serenity, less pain, and an appreciation for the minor miracles of just getting through another day unscathed.

    Do keep in mind, through ALL of this, that politicians only lie whan their mouths are moving. That an honest politician is defined by his behaviour, which means that once bought, he/she stays bought. Blumenthal is no better or worse than any of his ilk. Just consider the source, and beware.

    Enough–I’ll get off the soap box for now, assuming I don’t twist my ankle when I jump down…(grin)

  4. KE4GNK was eloquent in his post.
    I’m a vet of 20 years service post Vietnam. I’m grateful for all who served there honorably and to everyone who has served since. Let’s let his mis speak go.

  5. Heh, thanks for the comment, Chris. I guess eloquence in spite of some horrible typos is a better description.

    Politicians misspeak all the time, nothing new about that, for sure.

    I currently have one son on active duty, he and his wife have BOTH been downrange and back recently. We continue on.

  6. goeff….you have hit the nail on the head. as a survivor and veteran of 3 campaigns in country, i am lucky to be alive, and fortunate to be able to respond to this timely and poignant

    regards, jack

  7. I sympathize with your disappointment, Geoff.

    As I often have to remind myself when I head for the polls, getting to vote for an honest, thoroughly decent candidate is an infrequent luxury. More often we have to vote for run-of-the-mill human beings with a dismaying variety of faults and foibles. No matter how much it pains us, when faced with choosing among far-less-than-perfect candidates, we have the obligation to carefully select the best of a bad lot. Sometimes we have to vote for resume inflaters, or adulterers, or braggarts, or sufferers of foot-in-mouth disease, if only because the alternative is even worse. That’s the choice that the founders set up for us, and while sometimes it’s crazy-making, it actually works, provided we don’t throw up our hands and sit on the sidelines.

    Good luck picking your candidates. Believe me, it’s not like we’ve got a bumper crop of saintly, genius people running for office here in California, either.

  8. NEWS FLASH: A politician lied.

    In other news, water is wet and the sky is blue.

    I’ve always wondered what was up with Richard Blumenthal … he always has seemed *too* squeaky-clean to me, and all of his crusades to look out for the little guy have come across to me as just ploys to build up a good record to run on later. I was surprised he declared for the Senate seat, actually — I always figured he was biding his time for Governor.

    All too often, cynicism devolves into truth. This is one of those times.

  9. Let’s see … a distinguished AG who has faithfully served the state for years and who blew it in a couple of speeches, or the WWF purveyor of violence and misogyny and simulated rape and necrophilia? Choices, choices? Nope.

  10. You mean faithfully served the Democrat party, right?

    Why didn’t our “distinguished AG,” for example, EVER investigate his close, personal friend, Chris Dodd, over his “Irish cottage?” Or over his Countrywide deals? Or over his fundraising?

    Oh. right. Because Dodd is his close, personal Democrate friend. That’s why.

    CT residents be damned.

    And why isn’t “our distinguished AG” challenging the unconstitutional mandates being forced on CT and our residents by the Federal healthcare bill?

    Oh. right.

    Because it’s put out by a Democrat administration.

    CT residents and our constitutional rights be damned.

    Blumenthal “has faithfully served” the Democrat party and Chris Dodd for years. And is now being “faithfully” rewarded by them with a U.S. Senate seat. Talk about patronage!

    Except CT residents are sick of this kind of politics. And we will not reward Mr. Blumenthal.

  11. Blumenthal probably deliberately misspoke. Did he tell the public about the deferments that kept him out of Viet Nam? No, so I believe it was deliberate because his audience at the time needed to conjure up the image of his being a patriot. So, does “misspoke” equal “lie”? The question is for the voters to answer. Seems to me as attorney general he couldn’t hurt the citizens too much, but as a senator he will just become another politician who could care less about how we want them to vote.

  12. I cannot fathom how a lawyer, who is excellent at using and twisting words, would make a mistake like this! He did serve his country, but to imply he was in the middle of the “action” is just not ethical. I remember when our 18 year old neighbor was killed in action in Vietnam and he had no option to serve stateside. He went to war and didn’t come back. I can still see his smiling face as he would walk up the street bouncing that basketball. His name was Teddy. For all the “Teddy’s” out there, Dick Blumenthal needs to say he is sorry for the misrepresentation!

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