The depth of the U.S. experience in the Vietnam war four decades ago is evidenced in a number of cultural, historical and political manifestations — not the least of which is the way the war still represents dangerous shoals that baby-boomer politicians must avoid. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who’s running for the U.S. Senate, is the latest example. The New York Times has uncovered a tendency by Blumenthal, a Democrat, to overstate his Vietnam era service. We say “era” because Blumenthal never set foot in ‘Nam. But that apparently hasn’t stopped him from talking like he did, The Times found.
In one speech in 2008, Blumenthal talks about important lessons learned “since the days that I served in Vietnam.” The newspaper found other examples of Blumenthal fuzzing up the details of where he was and what he did in those years, but the ’08 speech is the topper, and it’s on video. In fact, The Times reports, Blumenthal got five military deferments from 1965 to 1970, and when the last one was running out he got a spot in the Marine Reserve, virtually assuring he wouldn’t go to Vietnam. He joined a Washington unit which, the paper reports, “conducted drills and other exercises and focused on local projects, like fixing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive.” Not exactly Bronze Star duty. We’ll see whether it costs Blumenthal in November, but it’s amazing how ambition can warp a man’s better judgment, causing him to say things that are easily proved false or sadly misleading.