Where We Live: Blumenthal and Vietnam

Unexpected twist in Senate campaign just days before the convention

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
Photo:Chion Wolf
Where We Live 05-18-2010
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Where We Live 05-18-2010

Senate Candidate Richard Blumenthal is taking heat this morning because of a New York Times article calling to question his military service record.  In speeches to veterans groups, Blumenthal has cited “his time in Vietnam” – a period in his life which never actually happened. In fact, he obtained at least five military deferments during the war, eventually serving in the Marine Reserves but never making it to Vietnam.

The New York Times is denying the story was leaked from the Linda McMahon Campaign. The McMahon Campaign, however, is hinting differently. Blumenthal has scheduled a news conference for later today with state veterans to address his service record, the beginning of what is sure to be a series of public relations events aimed at controlling the damage to his campaign.

But is it too late for Blumenthal? Or is this just politics-as-usual in Connecticut? What does this mean for the Democratic frontrunner?

Join the conversation.  Leave your comments below.




Seems to me that the CT press has been asleep for the last couple of decades if the state AG never came under any real scrutiny about this. I'd also guess that the NYT did this as an inoculation, so that in the fall Mr. Blumenthal can dismiss questions about it as "old news" and decry the "politics of personal destruction." I think it will probably work, too, but I'm supporting Peter Schiff because I don't like it and I'm sick of being ashamed of our representatives.

5/18 Discussion of Blumenthal story

Did Rob Simmons actually stoop to calling them the "Democrat" Party? What a classless ass.

Richard Blumenthal

Shame on you Richard Blumenthal! The irony of the situation Mr. Blumenthal now finds himself does not escape my notice. Here is a public figure who at every opportunity seeks out media attention. Now he has it in spades. There is no argument that as a very well educated man and an attorney he knows how to use language. To believe that he “misspoke” requires that one suspends all they know about the well spoken Richard Blumenthal. If by “misspoke” he means oops I should not have said that I can accept that. However he did say that he was “in” Vietnam. That statement was uttered to ingratiate himself with his audience. That is what politicians do. We don’t need more of that type of politician. We need statesmen. Don’t even get me started on the five deferments!

Mr. Blumenthal is a master of

Mr. Blumenthal is a master of the English language. To mispeak once, is an accident. To do so a "hand full" of times is a pattern of deception. The only reason he even joined the Reserves was that he ran out of deferrments. At that time, you only got into a Reserve unit because you had some sort of political connections. I know, I tried the same path after graduation from college. I served as a pilot in the Air Force then joined the Guard after my active duty was over. I understand the game Mr. Blumenthal played back then and I find his deception regarding his service very disturbing because it leads to more questions regarding other parts of his life.

Richard Blumenthal

I haven't heard anyone mention Lina McMahon's decision to "leak" the Richard Blumenthal story to the New York Times. She's running to be a Connecticut Senator, correct? Has she heard about the Hartford Courant, the Connecticut paper from the capital of Connecticut? Her contacting the Times and not the Courant tells me a lot about her. She needs to remember that Stamford is still in Connecticut and has not been annexed by New York, yet. I will not vote for her based solely on this issue.

Blumenthal and Viet Nam

Have listened to his statements about learning lessons in Viet Nam - and I agree with the AG, WE all learned lessons IN Viet Nam - just as we learn in Shakespeare, in history, in literature - have always known from his statements over the years that he was state-side and not in So.Ea. Asia - he really did not appear to mis-speake - he used a term literate adults understand - The country was engaged IN Viet Nam - whether we were all there or not - this appears to be the swift boating of another Democrat -


I was just listening to Diane Orson's report (5pm) about Blumenthal's misstatement. She said (if I have it accurately) that "Blumenthal never served IN the Vietnam war". HMMM another misstatement as I see it. I was in the Navy Reserves (almost 3 years) and never left state side. I was granted a ribbon for my involvement "IN", as I was "in the Vietnam war". While my active service was short due to a medical discharge, it was service "in the Vietnam war". I also had deferments to finish my education. Do you degrade me for that??? I guess, as I had 4 years of undergrad and one of grad school, so I guess I had 5 deferments also.
You could argue that her (Orson) misstatement degrades all those who served stateside. I am sure that was not her intent any more that it was Dick's intent to minimize the service of anyone during Vietnam. So while this does not solve the problems of Dick's misstatement, but, in the clips I have listen to, I do not think it is anything more that a misstatement that he has owned and corrected this afternoon. I guess the reason I think it is just being used for political purposes (which does degrade the vets, is that many more times, as the other sources have confirmed, he stated that he never was "in-country" "
By comparison, our fearless last leader GWB joined the reserves and never showed up and never was called to active duty and clearly lied about it. Had he "owned" it I would have thought more of him. At least Blumenthal, by all accounts, showed up! So enough... lets look at the real issues and move on!!!

The Prince

So what else is new? Everyone has known for years that Richard is the Prince of Hyperbole.

Listener Email from Charles

I have 2 points to offer.

First any lawyer will tell you commas are king. If you read the statement from Mr Blumenthal correctly it is the following:

“ we learned a lot, since my service, in Viet Nam”

Perhaps poor sentence structure but it is completely different from the following:

“we learned a lot since my service in Viet Nam”

Being 45% down in the polls causes strange reactions

Second, this reflects the problem of independently financed campaigns where money for distortion of the facts is endless.

Listener Comment from Denise

If Linda McMahon’s campaign dug up one imprecise speech by Dick Blumenthal to tarnish his character, it demonstrates to me what a sleazy person she is. Why would I want someone like her representing me in the Senate?

Listener comment from Andrea

I love your show. Keep up the good work and keep us thinking.

I only heard the quick snippet of the speech you played earlier. To my ear, it sounded as if he could have said, “...during that time, in Viet Nam, when I served...” rather than , “...during that time in Viet Nam when I served...” It’s just a nuance, but it completely changes the meaning. The first implies that he served during the time of the Viet Nam war while the second implies that he served in Viet Nam. I'd like to hear more of his speech to put the statement into context.

Listener comment from Susan

While it's important for listeners to hear all interested parties (Healy, Simmons, Merrick A., etc.) and of course the well-informed CT pundits, for whom this is of course an apparently not unwelcome field day, it would have been nice for more ordinary citizens to have a chance to chime in (as Susan in Middlefield did at the very end).

One more specific point--to let the analogy drawn between Spitzer and Blumenthal, while interesting and apt in part, go without response was IMO more than a bit misleading (and therefore unfair). Let's be precise and accurate, after all, while deploring Blumenthal's argued departure from that standard. Spitzer was participating in patently illegal activity that also (unfortunately for him) was salacious enough not only to grab but to keep headlines. Tempting as it is to draw this narrative arc for Blumenthal, it seems pretty out there.

Overall, thank you, as always, for dealing with the ups and downs of live coverage--though there wasn't the time the subject merited.

Listener comment from Nick

With all the discussion about Richard Blumenthal there seems to be no concern that he is our state's chief legal officer. Honesty is the mainstay of AG position. He should resign.

Rob Simmons' hackery shows through

Rob Simmons whined that someone's First Amendment right to speak at a political convention was denied? What did I miss?

Har de har. I would have liked someone to mention as such.