Two days have passed since news broke that Connecticut Attorney General and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal lied about his military service record. The defense of Blumenthal has begun with an article in TheDay.com that says the video cited by The New York Times was taken out of context:
“At the very outset of Blumenthal’s remarks, he describes himself as ‘someone who served in the military during the Vietnam era, in the Marine Corps,’ before going on to say that the efforts to support veterans of current American conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are in contrast to the disrespect shown to returning veterans during the Vietnam era.”
TheDay says this is proof he “accurately described his military service” in the speech and the part the Times chose to quote was a simple spoken mistake taken out of context.
The Daily Beast seized on the TheDay report with the dubious headline “Blumenthal Didn’t Lie About ‘Nam,” and asked, “Does The New York Times owe … Richard Blumenthal an apology?” The Daily Beast is willing to give Blumenthal the benefit of the doubt:
“… he said that he served in Vietnam, but the fact that this statement followed an honest admission about the nature of his service makes it seem as though he misspoke, rather than lied deliberately.”
But does it really “make it seem” like that or are left-wing politicos trying to salvage a political disaster in Connecticut? In the full video Blumenthal never attempted to clearly state he was not in Vietnam and most casual listeners likely heard him say he served “during the Vietnam era” and later explicitly state he had been to the country. To say this constitutes Blumenthal “accurately describing his service” seems to be bending over backwards to put this scandal in a less negative light for the beleaguered Senate hopeful.
These weren’t the only two outlets leaping to his defense, or alternately to slam the Times. The Associated Press chimed in with a piece questioning the NYT’s reporting for omitting the first part of the video and liberal website Media Matters used AP to ask why Blumenthal was never cited by the NYTs as having “correctly characterized his service.” Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas wrote: “The New York Times apparently now flacks for the NRSC.”
Unfortunately for those pushing the angle that Blumenthal simply misspoke and has been mostly honest about his service record, the non-combat veteran has made statements far more damning. The News Times reports he has also said:
“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.
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.” (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection)
Sam Stein at The Huffington Post, while briefly acknowledging a “smoking gun” Blumenthal statement did exist, cited sources who called the original story “weak” journalism and characterized the issue as a problem for the NYT, not Blumenthal.
The smoking gun must have fired a squib.
A video of Blumenthal’s now-infamous speech on HuffPo’s Politics page is titled, “Video shows Blumenthal correctly stating military service,” a slightly humorous title given that the actual YouTube video is contradictorily titled “Blumenthal exaggerates Vietnam record.”
In the end, the left’s defense of Blumenthal or the right’s quest to pillory him all comes down to one question: What do the voters think? A Rasmussen poll taken Wednesday indicates that Blumenthal stock is plummeting.
Time will tell if he is dropped for a more viable candidate or he will be able to refocus the campaign on less damaging issues.