Candidate Blumenthal in the sixties: Communism not ‘radical’
While a student at Harvard during the sixties, Richard Blumenthal, now the Democratic candidate for Senate in Connecticut, penned a magazine article about a well-known student Vietnam-era protest group, writing that “communism is no longer radical.”
But was this article an example of objective reporting, or an expression of Blumenthal’s personal views?
Marla Romash, a spokeswoman for the campaign, said Blumenthal was not expressing his own beliefs, and has never believed in that statement about communism. “He was reporting on the views of others,” she said.
The quote comes from a 1967 piece, obtained by The Daily Caller, that Blumenthal wrote in The Nation about Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a group protesting what they said was a “cruel and senseless” war in Vietnam.
“Communism is no longer radical,” Blumenthal wrote in a paragraph about the “weaknesses of SDS ideology” shortly before his spring graduation from Harvard. He wrote that communism “aims to get power through the electoral process–in other words, working within the system–and supports liberal measures such as Social Security and Medicare.”
Blumenthal, now the attorney general of Connecticut, wrote in the same piece that neither the “present Communist Party nor the Progressive Labor Party (Maoist) comprehends the real needs and problems of modern Americans.” At the time of his writing of the article, he had also authored stories for The Washington Post and oversaw editorial writing at The Harvard Crimson campus newspaper.
Whatever Blumenthal’s views of communism at the time, within a couple of years he has decidedly joined the mainstream. In 1969, Life magazine profiled Blumenthal as a young White House aide to Daniel Moynihan. The 23-year-old is described as a privileged Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard grad inspired by President Kennedy, who works “only about 50 full paces up and east to the door of the Oval Office.”
“If he were not there, he confesses, at least part of his considerable intelligence probably would be employed protesting this political system which now keeps so many distant,” the article’s author, Hugh Sidey, wrote in “A Patriot in the Basement.”
Blumenthal’s activities during the 1960s have been the subject of national controversy, after he was caught on tape falsely claiming to have served in Vietnam. Blumenthal has maintained that he unintentionally misspoke during those instances.