By now, we're all familiar with the original story and the subsequent response. By now, most of us have seen this article over on the Huffington Post, which is titled "Video Shows Blumenthal Correctly Stating Military Service." Apparently, to some folks on the left, this makes the original New York Times article into a hit piece. This makes the New York Times a lying rag that's only ever out to drag Democrats through the mud.
Unfortunately, that's just bullshit.
Think about it this way: If George W. Bush had said he served "in Vietnam" and talked about the treatment of veterans when he "returned from Vietnam", every one of you would have called him a liar. And you would have been right. And a lie is a lie regardless of who tells it. And Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, well, he's a liar.
Mr. Blumenthal routinely alludes to his Vietnam-era service. On numerous occasions, he has stated that he served IN Vietnam. He has made comments about coming back from Vietnam, saying "When we returned, we saw nothing like this."
When someone says they were in Vietnam, and that they returned from Vietnam, the only logical conclusion is that they mean they were actually there, in Vietnam, and came back here, to America, from Vietnam, where they had been. And when someone says these things in speeches to Veterans, their message seems clear: I was there, in Vietnam, just like you, and I feel your pain.
That was the gist of the New York Times story: that Mr. Blumenthal mislead people, misstated his record, said some things about his Vietnam-era service that didn't really line up with the facts. And you know what? The New York Times is right.
And whether or not Mr. Blumenthal also stated - in those speeches or other speeches - that he served "during the Vietnam era" is really inconsequential. Whether Mr. Blumenthal sometimes actually told the truth and accurately described his Vietnam service does not alter the fact that - on multiple occasions - he misstated his record.
Don't get me wrong: I want to see a Democrat pick up Dodd's seat in Connecticut. But I'm not willing go along with those who are trashing the original New York Times article, defending Mr. Blumenthal, and arguing that it all depends on what the meaning of the word "in" is.
Update: The original New York Times story, as posted online, contained a link to a video of a speech in which Blumenthal said that he served "in Vietnam." As far as I'm concerned, that's primary source material and concrete evidence. The fact that the full video shows Blumenthal saying he served "during the Vietnam era" doesn't change the fact that he did - in that speech - say he served in Vietnam. Beyond this, I question why Mr. Blumenthal wasn't straight-forward about his military record. He knows how seriously we take military service. Why not make it clear that he served state-side, but never got deployed to Vietnam? Because he wanted to leave that open, for people to think whatever they wanted. And that, in and of itself, is dishonest and disingenuous.
Update 2: For additional sources, see below. When you are a public figure and covered in the media, you routinely follow that coverage. In fact, most high-level elected officials have at least one staffer whose job it is to monitor their press. It is hard to argue, with a straight face, that Mr. Blumenthal was unaware of the coverage below. It is much more likely that he knew of these articles, and these misstatements, and had no interest in correcting the record. Instead, he encouraged the rumor by using language that was ambiguous at best, and at worst, outright dishonest.
Connecticut Post, May 18, 2008
"Being here today was a great honor." State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who served as a Marine sergeant in Vietnam, said he was moved by the town's tribute and encouraged that more be done to create jobs, counseling and healthcare for returning soldiers than during the Vietnam era 30 years ago.
"When we returned from Vietnam, I remember the taunts, the verbal and even physical abuse we encountered," Blumenthal said. "It has taken 30 years for people to realize that, however they feel about the wars, they must honor the men and women who serve our country who had nothing to do with the decision to wage the conflicts.
Connecticut Post, May 28, 2007
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal gave his fellow Vietnam vets the "welcome home" they never got when they returned from the unpopular war.
Connecticut Post, April 25, 2003
Blumenthal, a former Marine sergeant who served in Vietnam, echoed Fabrizi's thoughts. "We're just so proud of them, so proud of this Bridgeport community," Blumenthal said.
Connecticut Post, May 21, 2007
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War, said troops should be honored for their sacrifices during and after battles.
Note: We've been through this before. No doubt plenty of you will leave all sorts of hilarious comments below, on how I must be a Republican, belong at Red State, etc. Its unfortunate that when anybody here goes against the groupthink and disagrees with the consensus, they're subject to all sorts of wild accusations and ad hominem attacks. This kind of reminds me about the time I thought that cartoon wasn't racist, and got told that I was obviously blinded by my white privilege...