Due to the strange way in which my mind works, FDChief's Flanders Field post set me to thinking about a recent event in the news. It seems that the voters of Connecticut have finally wised up about Chris Dodd, their long-time Democratic senator, and they've decided that his years-long coziness with the banking industry has gone too far. Dodd's specialized in regulatory matters with regard to the banks for years now, and it seems even his own party believes he's just become too much a housepet for the guys who helped ruin the economy. So Dodd's quitting. Nobody will pass this guy, a poster child for politicians who forget whom they serve, but it's clearly in the interests of the Democrats that they retain his seat in the Senate.
Enter Richard Blumenthal, the long-time and popular Connecticut Democratic Attorney General. He's going for Dodd's seat and he's got everything going for him. Me, I don't know much about the Blumenthal, but I do know that I'd generally rather see the Democrats retain Dodd's seat. I'm down on the Republicans, so even though I don't get a vote in Connecticut, I generally think my best interests would be served by Blumenthal being elected. Only one problem here that I can see.
It turns out that Blumenthal is a liar. He's a Vietnam veteran wannabe and he's allowed the citizens of Connecticut to think he actually went off to war: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/nyregion/18blumenthal.html?th&emc=th Yeah, Mr. Blumenthal is a Vietnam combat wannabe. Now, I'm not quite sure why anybody cares that much at this late date, but he clearly feels lacking in some important respects. So lacking in fact, that he's essentially lived a dishonest public life. One also must wonder how he's presented himself to his wife, his kids, his friends, etc. He's clearly let the public record reflect combat service on his part, combat service that never happened; has he done this with his closer associates and family?
The Democratic party establishment is scrambling right now, trying to put the best face possible on this. They blame the NY Times for somehow missing a bunch of nuances in what this guy's said, they blame the Republicans for feeding the Times (the Republicans say, "no," BTW), they blame everyone but the lying dog who caused this entire mess. It's pretty simple, Mr. Blumenthal. You either went. Or you didn't. No amount of parsing your words—yes, he's an attorney—can change that fact.
The NY Times today carries a little more, an analysis by their public editor of what the Times reported, and what Blumenthal has said: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/opinion/23pubed.html?th=&adxnnl=1&emc=th&adxnnlx=1274644819-lvPYXTXBOffOjG2LIunEJw
Unsurprisingly, the public editor concluded that the Times didn't do anything wrong. And I agree. The Times simply reported what this guy has said.
Ah, Vietnam. Damn, nobody wanted to go at the time, especially not anyone who had money or was connected, but now there are a whole bunch of guys in their 60s who (1) wished they'd gone; and (2) actually lie about it. I did a little research and it turns out there are web sites devoted to "outing" the incredible number of phonies and liars there are out there. It's gotten to the point where I'm also—not quite—glad I spent a couple of tours there; I get bragging rights among old dudes. Some are even envious of me, if you can believe that. Might even get some babes if I weren't too old to do anything about it. Everybody loves me now and I don't care. Actually, my friend, Jim the Ranger, can tell you what my response is to this all of this horseshit.
Blumenthal. As I say, I can't vote for or against this guy. I also believe it might be best for the nation for that Dodd seat to stay in Democratic hands. But would I advise anyone in Connecticut to vote for him? Nah. He would have been fine if he'd just told the truth. He was a draft dodger and he found a safe haven in the Reserves. That particular story hasn't hurt any politicians we've seen lately. You can even be president as a draft dodger. But that wasn't good enough for Blumenthal. He had to make the story better. So I'd tell any Connecticut voter to ask him or herself if they would feel comfortable with voting for a man who's clearly so uncomfortable in his own skin that he feels compelled to lie about a pretty important thing in the past.
Forty or more years later. The past always comes back to bite you in the ass.